Mental Illness May Reduce Life Expectancy More than Cigarette Smoking

Mental Illness May Reduce Life Expectancy More than Cigarette Smoking

According to a recent study by Oxford University, serious mental illnesses may potentially decrease lifespan by much more than smoking cigarettes. A combination of smoking cigarettes and poor mental health could significantly shorten your life expectancy. Oxford scientists found the following average reduction in life expectancy for each of these serious mental conditions:

Bipolar disorder: Between 9 and 20 years

Schizophrenia: Between 10 and 20 years

Substance Abuse & Addiction: Between 9 and 24 years

Recurrent Depression: Between 7 and 11 years

The loss of years among those who smoke heavily is anywhere from 8 to 10 years.
Yet, despite the growing prevalence of mental health disorders worldwide, this often sensitive area of health still has yet to see the same public health priority as smoking, the researchers noted. There are a few reasons why people who suffer from mental health problems may not live as long as others, including high-risk behavior, physical side effects of mental illness, suicide and suicide attempts, and the ongoing stigma surrounding mental health problems.

“What we need is for researchers, care providers and governments to make mental health a much higher priority for research and innovation,” says Dr. Seena Fazel of the Department of Psychiatry at Oxford University. “Smoking is recognized as a huge public health problem. There are effective ways to target smoking. Also, with political will and funding, rates of smoking-related deaths have started to decline. We now need a similar effort in mental health.”

Now that there are concrete statistics that confirm a link between mental illness and shorter life expectancy, the researchers hope that healthcare providers and governments around the world will turn their efforts to helping those with mental health problems. Those suffering a problem like bipolar disorder, depression or schizophrenia are often pushed to the side, yet these are the most vulnerable of our population. Hopefully with these new statistics, some of the stigma that is all-too-often associated with mental illness can be lifted, allowing those who need help to receive it more quickly and without shame.

What do you think about these results on smoking and mental illness? Let us know in the comments!

Source: Science Daily: Many Mental Illnesses Reduce Life Expectancy More than Heavy Smoking


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