Can stress cause wrinkles? That has been an everlasting idea. Chronic stress has been proven to effect your health and the body in a number of ways, including causing insomnia and weight gain, in addition to harming your immune system. Because of this, it would make sense that stress could alter the physical appearance of your body as well with wrinkles. But is there any scientific evidence to support this claim?
The truth is, there is some evidence that points to stress creating more wrinkles, but the evidence is a bit grey. More research still needs to be done on the correlation between stress and wrinkles, but this is what we know so far.
The Stress Hormone Cortisol May Cause Premature Aging
When you are stressed, your adrenal glands release specific hormones aimed to protect you, including cortisol and adrenaline. Cortisol is the primary stress hormone, and it is helpful in times of need. According to Mayo Clinic, it enhances your brain’s use of glucose, makes the substances that repair tissues more available and restrains body functions that are not essential to you in times of danger. Cortisol is also thought to affect osteoporosis and muscle and collagen loss, according to Vivian Diller, Ph.D.
If you have chronic stress and your body is releasing cortisol on a regular basis, you are constantly altering your internal functions. You are also losing tissue, as cortisol breaks down tissue , according to Nicholas Perricone, MD and author of The Wrinkle Cure.
If you are losing tissue and collagen, which is a natural structural protein in skin, it makes sense that these internal changes would also cause visible changes that we usually associate with aging, such as wrinkling and thinning skin.
Work-Related Exhaustion Can Lead to Accelerated Biological Aging
In 2012, researchers found that work-related exhaustion is related to faster aging. How? Well, the study found that people with severe exhaustion and stress from work had telomeres shorter than those who had no exhaustion. Telomeres are critical DNA sections in the cells. When telomeres become too short, cells die or get damaged. Though telomeres naturally shorten over time as we age, the findings in this study suggest that the telomeres of those who are more stressed from work become shorter faster.
Cell damage and death not only leads to several internal problems that link to aging, such as weaker muscles, eyesight and hearing, but it can also speeds up visible aging, such as wrinkling.
Stress-Related Activities Have Been Proven to Cause Visible Aging
Though continuous stress causes many changes in our body including those above, it also alters our lifestyle. Most people who are severely stressed take less care of themselves than they would normally. Unhealthy lifestyle habits that those who are stressed may develop include unbalanced diets, little-to-no exercise and smoking. All of these habits have been proven time and time again to adversely affect your skin’s health and appearance.
A healthy and balanced diet gives your skin the nutrients it needs to feel and look healthy and hydrated. Exercise keeps your skin nourished by increasing blood flow, decreases stress and allows for waste products to be carried away from the skin more quickly. Finally, smoking hinders the blood supply that allows skin to be healthily nourished and depletes nutrients, causing wrinkles and other skin problems. It can also lead to discoloration and dry skin. For more details on how each of these activities affect your skin, take a look at an earlier article we wrote by clicking here.
Though more research needs to be done on the relationship between stress and wrinkles, there does seem to be enough evidence out there to prove that stress adversely affects your skin.
Unfortunately, stress is a natural reaction to fear that all humans experience. We can’t rid this experience from our lives, but we can reduce it. Activities such as regular exercise, meditation, listening to music and regular social interaction have been proven to reduce stress and cortisol levels.
If you do get stressed, try not to engage in activities that contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle. This way, you’ll have a less stressful and healthier life with long-lasting, beautiful and youthful skin. For more information about skin care and wrinkles, feel free to contact us. We would love to help! If you have a question for Selika Gutierrez-Borst, please email email@example.com with the subject line “Question for Selika”