New research done by Oxford University suggests that mental health problems, such as bipolar disorder and recurring depression, can be just as deadly as smoking.
Researchers in the U.K. have proven that life expectancy for British citizens who have certain mental health problems can be much lower than average, and is similar to the life expectancy of heavy smokers. The research involves data from 20 different studies that include information on over 1.7 million people and 250,000 deaths.
According to Oxford’s research, people who smoke 20 cigarettes a day have a life expectancy of eight to ten years lower than nonsmokers. Comparatively, the average life expectancy of people with recurring depression is seven to eleven years lower. The study also points out that people with bipolar disorder have nine to twenty years taken from their life span, and schizophrenia can take ten to twenty years from a person’s life.
Meanwhile, drug and alcohol abuse can remove nine to twenty-four years from a person’s life.
The research has estimated that around one in four people in the U.K. will experience a mental health problem in the course of a year. At the same time, one in five people smoke.
Dr. John Williams, head of neuroscience and mental health at the Wellcome Trust, says that people need to realize the danger that mental health problems can cause.
“People with mental health problems are among the most vulnerable in society,” Dr. John Williams said.
“This work emphasizes how crucial it is that they have access to appropriate health care and advice, which is not always the case.
“We now have strong evidence that mental illness is just as threatening to life expectancy as other public health threats such as smoking.”
Oxford University’s research was published in the journal World Psychiatry, and was funded by the Wellcome Trust.
Although there are many ways that smokers can get help, there aren’t as many ways to help people with mental illnesses. Hopefully this study will help fix that.