Even mild mental issues can reduce a person’s lifespan
People who have suffered from mild mental illnesses such as depression are at greater risk of premature death, a new study claims.
A team of researchers from the University College London and Edinburgh University looked in at the causes of deaths in 68,000 people in England and found that those with suffered from low level distress where 16 per cent more likely to pass away from conditions such as cancer and heart attack.
The study - which was funded by the Welcome Trust and published in the British Medical Journal - involved looking at people’s personal data over a 10 year period and then matching the information with their death certificates.
Dr Tom Russ, lead author, said: "The fact that an increased risk of mortality was evident, even at low levels of psychological distress, should prompt research into whether treatment of these very common, minor symptoms can modify this increased risk of death."
"This study highlights the need to ensure they have access to appropriate health care and advice so that they can take steps to improve the outcome of their illness,” added John Williams, head of neuroscience and mental health at the Welcome Trust.
Paul Jenkins, chief executive of the charity Rethink, said that the study’s findings really come as no surprise because previous research has shown that people suffering with mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder live on average 20 years less than those considered healthy.
He said: "There is a huge lack of awareness amongst health professionals about the increased risk of physical illness for this group, which means people are dying needlessly every day."
Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the mental health charity SANE, agreed with Mr Jenkins concerns and pointed out that the often people suffering with mental health issues are not given the support they need by health professionals.
This can leave them neglecting themselves and their long-term wellbeing.