University of Bradford study: 'Stress returns to affect sufferers in old age’

Dr Helena Chui, a lecturer at the University of Bradford's psychology division

Dr Helena Chui, a lecturer at the University of Bradford's psychology division

First published in News Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , T&A Reporter

The stresses people experience during their lives can ‘catch up’ on them when they reach old age leading to health problems, new research has found.

University of Bradford lecturer Dr Helena Chui was part of a team involved in a ground-breaking study on the links between depression and stress hormones in the elderly.

It used data from an 18-year period and found that past stress can lead to issues in later life.

The study, which used data gathered from 50 participants with an average age of 89, has just been released and is thought to be the first of its kind to use evidence collected from such a long period.

It considered the effects of stress hormone Cortisol on the very elderly.

Dr Chui, a lecturer at the University’s psychology division, has found a link between depression and reduced amounts of a Cortisol in very old people when they wake up in the morning.

Cortisol is released in response to stress and increases blood sugar levels and suppresses the immune system, helping the body to survive immediate threats, or prepare for the exertion of a new day.

Dr Chui, who is from Hong Kong and studied her PHD at Colorado State University, said: “Stress occurs throughout life, but advanced old age and an approaching end of life often bring frequent and severe physical and social losses that induce a higher level of depressive symptoms.

“This study suggests that stress experienced in the past might accumulate and catch-up on people as they enter old age.”

Comments (3)

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8:43am Sat 31 May 14

SurprisedByJoyce says...

I should imagine that living in Bradford doesn't help either.
I should imagine that living in Bradford doesn't help either. SurprisedByJoyce
  • Score: 14

9:07am Sat 31 May 14

FinlandStation says...

This was very interesting. I'm sure a lot of us who are getting on a bit recognise the effect.

If Dr. Chui is reading these posts, is there anything that can be done to increase the cortisol levels when you wake up in the morning? Some herbal tea perhaps? I hate diagnoses without cures, but that seems to be a characteristic of old age. They know what's wrong but they can't fix it.
This was very interesting. I'm sure a lot of us who are getting on a bit recognise the effect. If Dr. Chui is reading these posts, is there anything that can be done to increase the cortisol levels when you wake up in the morning? Some herbal tea perhaps? I hate diagnoses without cures, but that seems to be a characteristic of old age. They know what's wrong but they can't fix it. FinlandStation
  • Score: 8

10:50am Sat 31 May 14

bluebluerobin says...

FinlandStation wrote:
This was very interesting. I'm sure a lot of us who are getting on a bit recognise the effect.

If Dr. Chui is reading these posts, is there anything that can be done to increase the cortisol levels when you wake up in the morning? Some herbal tea perhaps? I hate diagnoses without cures, but that seems to be a characteristic of old age. They know what's wrong but they can't fix it.
Is cortisol the same as cortisone? Maybe a little cream first thing in the morning might help.
[quote][p][bold]FinlandStation[/bold] wrote: This was very interesting. I'm sure a lot of us who are getting on a bit recognise the effect. If Dr. Chui is reading these posts, is there anything that can be done to increase the cortisol levels when you wake up in the morning? Some herbal tea perhaps? I hate diagnoses without cures, but that seems to be a characteristic of old age. They know what's wrong but they can't fix it.[/p][/quote]Is cortisol the same as cortisone? Maybe a little cream first thing in the morning might help. bluebluerobin
  • Score: -5

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