Mental illnesses shorten life

Mental illnesses shorten life

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People with mental disorders live shorter lives

Many people suffer from mental disorders that have a massive impact on their everyday lives. Their physical health is also often affected and the result is a significantly reduced life expectancy. In a recent study, a Danish research team examined the impact of various mental illnesses on life expectancy - with worrying results.

The researchers at Aarhus University have evaluated mortality in certain types of mental disorders and thereby discovered various, previously unknown relationships. The researchers report that life expectancy due to mental illness is reduced significantly. The study results were published in the specialist magazine "The Lancet".

Data from more than 7 million people evaluated

It is known that people with mental disorders die earlier than the general population, but for the first time, the current study looked at various forms of mental disorders in terms of mortality, Dr. Oleguer Plana-Ripoll from Aarhus University, lead author of the study. Based on data from 7.4 million people in the Danish health register who lived in Denmark between 1995 and 2015, the researchers analyzed the effects of mental disorders on life expectancy.

Significantly shortened life expectancy

“We looked at how mortality rates changed for every type of disease, for every age, for men and women. In addition to premature mortality, we were also able to investigate specific causes of death such as cancer, diabetes and suicide, ”reports Dr. Plana-Ripoll. When looking at the differences in life expectancy, the researchers found that men and women with mental disorders had an average life expectancy that was ten and seven years shorter than that of all Danes of the same age after diagnosis of the disease.

Cancer, respiratory diseases and diabetes

"The risk of premature death was higher for people with mental disorders of all ages," emphasizes the Dr. With regard to individual forms of mental disorders, for example, it should be noted that people with depression or another mood disorder not only have an increased risk of death from suicide, but also an increased risk of death from diseases such as cancer, respiratory diseases and diabetes.

Disappointing discovery

According to Professor John McGrath from Aarhus University, an unusual pattern has also been shown in men with mental disorders. The researchers therefore assumed that cancer-related deaths also played a significant role in shortening life expectancy. However, this is not the case. Because even though they have a higher risk of cancer death, men with mental disorders are more likely to die from cardiovascular and lung diseases at a younger age. "This is a new and rather disappointing discovery," said Professor McGrath. (fp)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Dipl. Geogr. Fabian Peters


  • Oleguer Plana-Ripoll, Prof. Carsten Bøcker Pedersen, Prof. Esben Agerbo, Yan Holtz, Annette Erlangsen, Vladimir Canudas-Romo, et al .: A comprehensive analysis of mortality-related health metrics associated with mental disorders: a nationwide, register- based cohort study; in: The Lancet (published 10/24/2019),
  • Aarhus University: Mentally ill die many years earlier than others (published 10/25/2019),

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