Health Encyclopedia


Health Encyclopedia Home

Mental Illness Linked to Shortened Life Spans

Mental Illness Linked to Shortened Life Spans

FRIDAY, May 23, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Serious mental illness can take between seven and 24 years off a person's life, which is similar to or worse than the impact of heavy smoking, researchers report.

"We found that many mental health diagnoses are associated with a drop in life expectancy as great as that associated with smoking 20 or more cigarettes a day," Dr. Seena Fazel, of the department of psychiatry, at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, said in a university news release.

"There are likely to be many reasons for this. High-risk behaviors are common in psychiatric patients, especially drug and alcohol abuse, and they are more likely to die by suicide," Fazel noted. "The stigma surrounding mental health may mean people aren't treated as well for physical health problems when they do see a doctor."

Fazel's team examined 20 studies that looked at the link between mental illness and death rates. The studies included more than 1.7 million people, and 250,000 deaths.

The researchers found that major mental disorders can greatly shorten people's lives. For example, the average life expectancy was 10 to 20 years shorter than normal for people with schizophrenia, 9 to 20 years shorter for those with bipolar disorder, 7 to 11 years shorter for those with recurrent depression, and 9 to 24 years shorter for people with drug and alcohol abuse.

By contrast, heavy smoking shortens life by an average of 8 to 10 years, the study authors noted.

Although this study found an association between mental illness and an increased risk of premature death, it did not prove that mental illness causes early death.

While mental illness appears to greatly increase the risk of premature death, it's not a major public health priority, the researchers noted. One of the reasons is the tendency to separate mental and physical health.

"Many causes of mental health problems also have physical consequences, and mental illness worsens the prognosis of a range of physical illnesses, especially heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Unfortunately, people with serious mental illnesses may not access health care effectively," Fazel said in the news release.

He and his colleagues said their findings should push governments and health officials to place a much higher priority on mental health.

Findings from the study were released online May 23 in the journal World Psychiatry.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about mental health.

SOURCE: University of Oxford, news release, May 22, 2014

Related Items
Wellness Library
  When to Seek Help for Your Mental Health
  What You Need to Know About Mental Illness
Daily News Feed
  Bipolar Disorder May Vary Depending on Weight, Eating Disorders
  Mental Health Services Should Be Part of Emergency Disaster Care: Review
  U.S. Troops' Suicide Risk Tied to Mental Illness, Not Combat: Study
  Genetic Overlap Seen in Five Mental Disorders
  Depression in Diabetes Patients Linked to Dementia, Study Finds
  Quit-Smoking Programs Work for Psychiatric Patients
  Parents Deliberately Making Child Ill Can Be Deadly
  Mental and Substance Disorders Major Cause of Nonfatal Illnesses
  Back-to-School Tips May Help Ease Sensory Overload in Kids
  Boosting Teens' Mental Well-Being Is Goal of New Skills Program
  Positive Attitude Linked to Longer Life in Heart Patients
  Depression May Be Worse When Accompanied by Anger, Irritability
  'Exposure Therapy' Along With Antidepressants May Help With OCD
  Young Adults With Autism Less Likely to Have Jobs, Live Independently
  Racism Takes a Toll on Kids' Mental Health, Research Shows
  Brain Scans Show Why Psychopaths Don't Feel Your Pain
  Long Periods of Delirium in ICU May Raise Risk of Mental Impairment
  Smoking in Pregnancy May Be Tied to Bipolar Disorder in Adult Offspring: Study
  Single Gene May Predict Mental Decline After Heart Surgery
  Stalking Can Take Mental Toll on Victims, Study Confirms
  Suicide a Risk for Young Cancer Patients, Study Finds
  Bipolar Disorder Drug May Need Adjusting in Pregnancy, Study Finds
  White House Boosts Insurance Coverage for Mental Illness
  Boston Bombing Triggered Flashbacks in Vets With PTSD, Study Finds
  Study Challenges Myths About Frequent ER Users
  Military Contractors Suffer High Rates of PTSD, Study Finds
  Psychiatrists Less Likely to Accept Health Insurance, Study Finds
  Brain Injuries Tied to PTSD in Marines
  Tough to Predict Profile of Mass Shooter: Report
  Certain Blood Proteins Higher in People Prone to Outbursts of Rage
  Anxiety Tied to Stroke Risk in Study
  Chantix Helped People With Mental Illness Quit Smoking Longer in Study
  Kids' Suicide Risk Similar for All Newer Antidepressants: Study
  Alternative Therapies Widely Used for Autism
  Statin Therapy May Prevent Delirium in Critically Ill Patients
  Extra Zzz's in Morning May Help Teens Stay Alert in Class
  Could Ecstasy Help People With Anxiety, PTSD?
  Children Who Lose Close Relative at Risk of Mental Problems: Study
  A Challenge at Work Might Ease Autism Symptoms in Adults
  New Diagnosis Rules Could Lead to Drop in Autism Numbers
  Many Bipolar Patients Take Multiple Psychiatric Meds
  Teen Pregnancy Rates Much Higher for Girls With Serious Mental Illness: Study
  Quitting Smoking Linked to Better Mental Health in Study
  Higher HIV Infection Rates Seen in Mental Health Patients: Study
  Frequent School Moves May Harm Kids' Mental Health
  Stigma of Mental Illness Remains Barrier to Treatment
  Mentally Ill More Often Victims Of Violence Than Perpetrators: Study
  Are Kids Born to Older Dads at Risk for Mental Health Woes?
  Mental Illness to Blame for 10 Percent of Kids' Hospitalizations: Study
  Too Many Foster Kids With ADHD Treated With Antipsychotic Drugs: Study
  Civilians in War Zones Also Suffer Mental Health Problems: Study
  Study Ties Antidepressant Use in Pregnancy to Autism Risk in Boys
  Mental Illness Not a Driving Force Behind Crime: Study
  Adults With Autism at Risk for Many Health Problems: Study
  People With Mental Health Issues More Likely to Turn to E-Cigarettes: Study
  New Campaign Seeks to Help Sleep-Deprived Americans
  Taking Antipsychotic Drugs While Pregnant May Harm Newborns: Study
  Recession Linked to More Than 10,000 Suicides in North America, Europe
Adult Diseases and Conditions
  Mental Health Disorder Statistics
  Home Page - Mental Health Disorders
  Online Resources - Mental Health Disorders
  Topic Index - Mental Health Disorders
  Mental Health Disorders in Children and Teens
  Mental Health Conditions
Pediatric Diseases and Conditions
  Home Page - Adolescent Medicine
  Adolescent Mental Health Overview