Is Your Antidepressant Making You Look Older?

The website version of the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Journal of the ASPS (American Society of Plastic Surgeons) recently published a study conducted at Case Medical Center that reveals new factors that influence aging, specifically that make us appear older than we are.

Based on a twin study of 186 pairs of identical twins who completed extensive questionnaires and submitted photos, the study shows that environmental factors and other lifestyle choices can influence one’s apparent age. While you may think this obvious, there were some surprises. You may have seen photos of identical twins, such as the twin pair above, in which one twin was a smoker and the other was not. The smoking twin’s aging pattern was 5-10 years ahead of the non-smoking twin, ie, the smoking twin had more wrinkles and a more sallow complexion. It’s not surprising that behaviors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, weight gain and loss cycles, exposure to pollution and other environmental factors can age us. What was surprising about this study were the additional factors we never realized created an older appearance!

The photos were shared with a group of panelists that were not told that they were twin sets. The panelists judged whether one sibling appeared older than the other and, if so, how many years older.

Divorce a surprising factor

In situations in which one of the twins was divorced, for example (a fact the panelists did not know), the divorced sibling was judged to be older than the other sibling by about two years.

In cases of weight gain and loss, the panelists thought that of twins over 40, the heavier twin was thought to be younger than their sibling. Conversely, in twins under 40, the thinner sibling was estimated to be younger! This speaks to the issue of facial volume. As we age and our faces begin to thin out and sag, the youthful volume disappears, especially under the eyes in the cheek area, due to cheek pad drooping. If you look at younger people and those with an excellent face lift that did not just pull the face back but combined the lift with dermal fillers such as Sculptra, Restylane, Juvederm, Perlane or liposuctioned fat, you’ll notice those individuals look younger, because there’s a healthy plumpness to the face.

Surprising results among those taking antidepressants

What is very surprising about the study is the estimate that the twin taking antidepressants was gauge to be significantly older than the other sibling! Researchers believe this may be due to the tendency for antidepressants to relax the facial muscles, leading to more drooping than would otherwise be the case for a particular patient’s chronological age.

What does this mean for you?

Besides avoiding tobacco and other aging-related habits, such as getting too much sun exposure, it means you may wish to reconsider massive weight loss after the age of 40, unless doing so is essential to your health or unless you can treat your face to the volumizing treatments necessary to avoid looking pleasantly thinner but unpleasantly older. As for the divorce and antidepressant effects, there’s not much that can be done about that one for many of us. Certainly, antidepressants are essential for numerous individuals, and divorce sometimes can’t be avoided. Doing what you can do, however, to promote a healthy lifestyle and availing yourself of treatments to add facial volume will go miles to helping you look younger!

I’d love your comments! Are you surprised by this study?
To your health and beauty,
Dr. Kent Hasen

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