Study shows anxiety and depression lower life expectancy
By Ian Birch
I've reported previously for Mental Healthy that people with severe mental illnesses who take anti-psychotic drugs have a significantly reduced life expectancy. Now for the first time a new British study, published in the British Medical Journal, has established that anxiety and depression can also lower life expectancy -- though not so dramatically.
Researchers at University College London and Edinburgh University analysed statistics from the decade from 1994 to 2004 with a sample size of nearly 70,000 patients.
They discovered that even people with mild, rather than moderate or severe, anxiety and depression, have slightly reduced life expectancies.
The researchers ensured they took into account other health and lifestyle factors such as exercise, weight, diabetes, alcohol consumption and smoking.
Dr David Batty, a Wellcome Trust research fellow in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at UCL and senior author on the study, said: "This increased mortality is not simply due to people with higher levels of psychological distress having poorer health behaviours."
Whilst the causes of the link are not clear in this study, it is thought, that a deterioration in physical health caused by psychiatric medications is primarily responsible for reducing life expectancy in people with schiozphrenia e.g. by developing cardiovascular (heart) problems or diabetes.
Paul Jenkins, chief executive of the charity Rethink, told BBC News: "Sadly, these findings do not come as a surprise.