High Stress Likely To Make Young People Look Older, Study Shows

In Education

According to research from North Carolina State University, certain stressful days can cause younger adults to appear and feel older, particularly when they feel less control over their lives.

Stress can accelerate aging feelings among seniors

Shevaun Neupert, the lead author of the study, explains that numerous studies indicate that stress can exacerbate feelings of aging among older individuals. This association between feeling older than one’s actual age and adverse health consequences has been extensively documented in the literature. Surprisingly, there is a dearth of research investigating this phenomenon among younger adults, including individuals in their teens, twenties, and thirties. Neupert adds that a comprehensive examination of this issue spanning all age demographics could pave the way for the development of interventions aimed at safeguarding both mental and physical health.

Prof. Neupert notes that this work holds significant timeliness, especially amidst the observed surge in stress levels among younger adults compared to previous generations.

The research involved collecting data from 107 adults aged 18 to 36. Participants completed a baseline survey and daily surveys for eight days, reporting their stress levels, perceived control over their lives, and how old they felt and looked. The study found that higher stress levels were associated with feeling and looking older, but only when participants felt less control over their lives.

Stress level varies depending on experiences

According to the study stress and control levels are relative, meaning they vary depending on individuals’ usual experiences. Even if someone reports low stress levels, if it’s higher than their norm, it still affects them. Similarly, even if they feel in control, if it’s less than usual, negative effects occur. This phenomenon applies to both young and older adults, indicating that stress can make people feel older regardless of age.

The author emphasizes the significance of understanding chronic stress’s effects, particularly as individual’s transition from young adulthood to midlife. They note that stress levels tend to rise during this period. Given that young people today already face high stress levels, it’s crucial to monitor stress-related markers to assess their physical and mental health accurately.

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