Mental Illness Can Lead to Shorter Life Spans

Mental Illness Can Lead to Shorter Life Spans
Mental Illness Can Lead to Shorter Life Spans

HealthDay News — People with mental health conditions such as depression, chronic anxiety and schizophrenia tend to die at younger ages than their peers without psychiatric disorders, a new research review says.

In fact, the researchers estimated that mental health disorders typically rob people of nearly a decade of life, and account for 8 million deaths worldwide each year.

The findings, published in JAMA Psychiatry, come from an analysis of over 200 international studies spanning several decades. Researchers said the studies help put the global toll of mental health disorders into perspective.

Although the study found an association between mental health conditions and earlier death, it wasn't designed to prove that the disorders were a direct cause of the early deaths.

Overall, the analysis found, people with mental health conditions were more than twice as likely to die over roughly 10 years, versus people without the disorders.

"People with mental health disorders have a high prevalence of chronic medical conditions," said study leader Elizabeth Walker, PhD, a researcher at the Emory University Rollins School of Public Health in Atlanta.

Making matters worse, she said, they often have difficulty managing those conditions — whether because of poor diet, lack of exercise, trouble sticking with medications, or problems getting the health care they need.

Reference

Walker ER, et al. Mortality in Mental Disorders and Global Disease Burden Implications. JAMA Psychiatry. 2015; doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.250.

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