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Serious Mental Illness Could Significantly Cut Life Expectancy

Posted on February 17, 2016 by Disability Help Group

According to new research, people diagnosed with serious mental illness live fewer years. In fact, researchers compare it to the shortened lifespan of smokers. The drop in life expectancy is equivalent to someone who smokes 20 or more cigarettes daily, according to the study authors who published in their report in the journal World Psychiatry.

In some cases the reduced lifespan could be even worse for those with severe mental disorders. The following indicates average drops in life expectancy for specific conditions:

  • schizophrenia – 10 to 20 years;
  • bipolar disorder – 9 to 20 years;
  • recurrent depression – 7 to 11 years;
  • drug/alcohol abuse – 9 to 24 years; and
  • heaving smoking – 8 to 10 years.

Researchers point out that certain factors likely contribute to shortened lifespans–such as suicide, alcohol or drug addiction. And despite progress in understanding and treating mental disorders, there is still a lot of stigma attached. As a result, many people don’t receive the necessary treatment.

It’s important to note that despite the link between a shortened lifespan and mental illness, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the cause of premature death. Researchers also point out that psychological problems many times results in physical problems such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

As important as it is to treat physical illnesses, it’s just as critical when it comes to mental illnesses. Yet it continues to be an area in which treatment is significantly lacking.

In fact, when it comes to Social Security disability it’s usually easier to get benefits based on a physical condition rather than a mental condition. Yet that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to collect benefits if a mental illness is disabling and prevents you or a loved one from working. But it may require help from a representative familiar with these types of cases. Here at Disability Help Group, we can help determine eligibility for disability benefits. Call us at 1-(800)-800-3332.