Disorders affecting mental health have plagued humankind for centuries, but it is only now that there is some awareness around it. Research shows that mental health disorders not only affect the quality of life but also reduce life expectancy by several years.
A study conducted at Aarhus University in Denmark by Professor John McGrath and Dr. Oleguer Plana-Ripoll showed surprising results. In men, life expectancy decreased by an average of 10 years while in women, it fell by seven years. Not only is this very concerning, but it is also demotivating to those trying to fight their illnesses. The findings showed a worrying insight into how an individual’s general health is affected when he/she suffers from poor mental health or disorders such as depression, anxiety, etc.
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The data collected were categorized by gender as well as age. Life expectancy measured for different types of mental disorders. 7.4 million people in Denmark were a part of the study over 20 years from 1995 to 2015. It was general that mortality rates in those affected by mental disorders were higher, sometimes due to suicide, but what surprised the scientists was the higher occurrence of deaths due to cancer, heart diseases, and infection.
The researchers used a method of “life-years lost” and took the age into account of the onset of the disorder. They then estimated the life expectancy of the person — early deaths expected in all those who suffered from mental health disorders. Men, who suffered from mental disorders, were more likely to die at a younger age from respiratory or cardiovascular diseases.
Professor McGrath said, “Our study emphasizes the urgent need to improve general health for people with mental disorders.” It is a critical reminder of how it is essential for those who suffer from poor mental health to take special care of their general well-being. Findings such as these are a big red flag, especially when they show a decrease in life expectancy by a decade. Statistics have also shown that 1 in 3 has a mental disorder in their lifetime. It is reflective of poor psychological and physical health of a substantial part of the population and is undoubtedly a world-wide crisis.
It is pertinent now more than ever that awareness raised regarding mental health and appropriate resources now given to those who need it. Doctors should focus more on the general health of those who already suffer from poor mental health. A healthy mind has all the power.
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Team Doctor ASKY!