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Poor Mental Health May Shorten Life Expectancy

Posted Aug 31 2012 10:08pm
Posted on Aug. 29, 2012, 6 a.m. in Longevity Mental Health
 Poor Mental Health May Shorten Life Expectancy

Previous studies investigating the association between symptoms of mental health and life expectancy have been small and unable to reliably measure thresholds of risk. A team of researchers from the University College London  and the University of Edinburgh (United Kingdom) analyzed data collected on over 68,000 adults, ages 35 years and older, enrolled in the Health Survey for England from 1994 to 2004.  Participants in the study had been evaluated for mental health problems using a recognized scale ranging from no symptoms to severe symptoms of depression and anxiety. The team then ascertained whether people who reported these symptoms during the study were more likely to have died over an 8 year period. They also examined whether there was an association with death from cardiovascular disease, cancer or from external causes of death.  The data revealed that people who experienced symptoms of anxiety or depression had a lower life expectancy, as compared to those without any such symptoms. Even people with minor symptoms of mental health problems seemed to have a higher risk of death from several major causes, including cardiovascular disease. The study authors conclude that: “Psychological distress is associated with increased risk of mortality from several major causes in a dose-response pattern.”

Russ TC, Stamatakis E, Hamer M, Starr JM, Kivimäki M, Batty GD. “Association between psychological distress and mortality: individual participant pooled analysis of 10 prospective cohort studies.”  BMJ. 2012 Jul 31;345:e4933.

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