Severe Mental Illness Shortens Lifespan, Research Shows

Severe Mental Illness Shortens Lifespan, Research Shows

Life may not only be challenging to those people since they could also have a shorter lifespan.

Research showed that severe mental illness, such as psychosis or bipolar disorder, could cut a person’s life by 15 to 20 years. There are a number of reasons why people with poor mental health die earlier than the average person.

The effects of mental disorders could lead to poor physical health. One study found that people with such conditions are two times more likely to have obesity, diabetes or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

They also have a higher risk of developing a heart disease. Another factor that makes their lives shorter is socioeconomic status.

Having a low income, less education and living in a deprived area contribute to both severe mental illnesses and chronic health conditions, according to Nick Meader and Hollie Melton, research fellows at the Center for Reviews and Dissemination at University of York.

Poor mental health also increases the risk of engaging in risky behaviors. Adults with severe mental illness have higher chances of smoking and misusing alcohol and drugs in an attempt to self-medicate.

“Studies show that people living in deprived areas are also four to five times more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors such as alcohol misuse, smoking and having an unhealthy diet,” Meader and Melton said in an article posted on The Conversation. “All of these can lead to a range of long-term physical conditions, such as cancer or cardiovascular disease.”

Mental disorders are not always to blame for the poor health of patients. In some cases, medications have negative effects on appetite and energy levels, which may encourage people to take unhealthy food options.

Poor health systems also contribute to the decreasing lifespan of people with mental disorders. Patients need regular access to therapies and medical care to help them improve their overall health.

“National guidance has been created which outlines how to help patients with mental illnesses improve their health,” Meader and Melton said. “But earlier research suggested staff members didn’t have enough support to follow these guidelines and put them into action. The lack of coordination between physical and mental health care systems might also be to blame.”

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