Scientists from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics made a startling discovery; major depression is not only a mood disorder, it is a reversible genetic disorder.
The findings left the scientists skeptical and it took them "a long time to convince ourselves it was real, and not an artifact," says Jonathan Flint, one of the authors of the study. Originally searching for a gene associated with an increased risk of depression, they, instead, realized that stress-related depression correlates with an increase in mitochondrial DNA, the energy factories of the cell.
Mitochondria do not create energy as well when they are under stress, so it leads to reason that a stressed body creates more mitochondria to make up for their lack of individual performance.
Next, when performing a four week stress test on mice, they noticed the increased production of mitochondria as well as a reduction in telomere length. Telomeres are the caps on DNA that preserve chromosomal information when a cell splits; if they get too short, the cell can't split its information, which leads to cellular death. Elongated telomeres are associated with long life span, so stress causing them to shorten is genetic proof that stress can kill.
The great news is that when the mice were relieved of their stressful situation, their mitochondria and telomeres returned to normal elucidating that stress related disease is reversible. This excites scientists most of all because now that we know that stress related illness is reversible, we can watch progress of treatment on a genetic level.
It also backs up the value of meditation, wiping your mind of negativity and inducing clarity and calmness. Perhaps it allows your mitochondria to function properly and regrow your telomeres.