Mental illness may shorten life by 10 years in men and 7 years in women, study reveals

People with mental health issues on average have a reduced lifespan by seven to ten years than the general population, study says.

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The average life expectancy of people with mental health disorders reduces by 10 years and seven years respectively for men and women, a study has said.

The new research at the National Centre for Register-based Research at Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University, confirms that people with mental health disorders have an increased risk of premature mortality as compared to the general population.

The study based on the data from the examination of about 7.4 million people living in Denmark between 1995 and 2015 explained people with depression, the most common mental health issue, or another type of mood disorder had higher mortality rates apart from an increased risk of suicidal death.

The results also said there was an increased risk of death due to somatic conditions such as cancer, respiratory diseases and diabetes in people diagnosed with mental health issues.

According to researchers, it is well known that people with mental disorders die earlier than the general population, but this new study is the most comprehensive examination ever of mortality in people with mental issues.

Dr Oleguer Plana-Ripoll, lead author and a postdoctoral researcher at the National Centre for Register-based Research in Aarhus University, said his colleagues had used new and more accurate ways to measure life expectancy and the impact of mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and substance use on the lives of people.

The study found substance abuse such as alcohol and illicit drug addiction had the biggest impact and reduced lifespan on average by 10 to 14 years.

The results published in The Lancet suggested the risk of early death was higher for people with mental disorders across all ages.

"We investigated how mortality rates change for each type of disorder, age, and gender," said Oleguer Plana-Ripoll, adding that researchers along with looking at premature mortality, explored specific causes of death such as cancer, diabetes, and suicide.

As per lead researcher and Professor John McGrath, the study aims to explore innovative methods related to psychiatric epidemiology and reveals worrying aspects of mortality among people with mental disorders.

"We found an unusual pattern in men with a mental disorder that is contrary to our expectations. They lost relatively few years of life due to cancer-related deaths compared to the general population as they died from cardiovascular and lung disorders at a younger age compared to the general population. This is a new and rather disappointing finding," McGrath explained.

McGrath from the Queensland Brain Institute said doctors "should not forget about the general health of vulnerable sub-groups" as these patients are dying early of diseases that the rest of the community have.

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