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Research indicates individuals with mental health conditions die earlier

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, an estimated 25 percent of people in the U.S. "experience mental illness in a given year." For those individuals with chronic conditions like major depression, generalized anxiety disorder and bipolar disorder; attempting to cope with the varied adverse symptoms they experience can be exhausting and challenging.

Mental health conditions not only rob individual sufferers of happiness and enjoyment, but according to research, may also contribute to an earlier death. Through the analysis of some 200 studies, researchers discovered that individuals with mental conditions are "more than twice as likely to die earlier vs. people without the disorders," by a span of nearly 10 years. 

While it's likely no surprise that individuals with mental conditions are more likely to commit suicide or be involved in fatal accidents, researchers found these individuals are also much more likely to suffer physical health conditions that contribute to earlier deaths.

The symptoms experienced by those living with mental conditions can make it more difficult to both seek medical treatment for health problems and also adhere to a treatment plan.Additionally, individuals with mental conditions like depression are more likely to smoke and be overweight, two major risk factors in developing numerous potentially deadly diseases. 

Researchers discussed their findings in the Feb. 11 issue of JAMA Psychiatry where they also noted additional factors that may contribute to the shorter lifespan of individuals suffering mental conditions including unemployment and poverty. For many of these individuals, Social Security disability benefits provide a vital lifeline to aid in securing basic necessities like housing and food which, quite literally, can mean the difference between life and death.

Source: The Dallas Morning News, "Mental health ills tied to early death," March 2, 2015

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