Mental Illness Shortens Life More Than Smoking: Study

​A new study says mental illness might actually
take years off your life. According to research from the University
of Oxford, mental illness may cut life expectancy by seven to 24 years — more than smoking
a pack of cigarettes a day. “Patients with bipolar or schizophrenia disorder
may shave as much as 10 to 20 years off their lives, while the average heavy smoker loses
eight to 10.” (Via KOAA) The researchers looked at 20 studies that
examined mental illness and death. They found schizophrenia can cut 10 to 20
years off your life, bipolar disorder can trim a lifespan by nine to 20 years, recurrent
depression seven to 11 years and alcohol and drug abuse nine to 24 years. (Via Flickr / Helga
Weber) According to the study’s lead author, those
dramatic drops might have to do with certain behaviors more common in those with mental
disorders. Quoted by HealthDay, she said, “High-risk
behaviors are common in psychiatric patients, especially drug and alcohol abuse, and they
are more likely to die by suicide.” And the head of neuroscience and mental health
at U.K. health charity Wellcome Trust says the stark findings might be cause for alarm. National Post quotes him as saying: “We now
have strong evidence that mental illness is just as threatening to life expectancy as
other public health threats such as smoking. This work emphasizes how crucial it is that
they have access to appropriate health care and advice, which is not always the case.” Researchers are quick to note the study found
earlier death was associated with mental illness but not necessarily caused by it. Still, they
hope their findings will make mental health a higher priority. According to the National Institute for Mental
Health, 1 in 4 American adults has a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.

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