Mental illness takes a major toll on Americans, with Newsweek claiming that 1 in 5 Americans experience a mental illness every year. Conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia lead to feelings of hopelessness, major mood changes, and delusions, all of which can make daily life hard to manage. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the average life expectancy in the United States is 77.9 years old, with the drop-in life expectancy being due to serious mental illnesses. Why does mental illness impact life expectancy so much?
Mental illness doesn’t just affect one’s psychological condition – it impacts physical health as well. The NIMH states that serious mental illnesses cause people cancer, heart disease, stroke, pulmonary disease, and diabetes. Furthermore, individuals with a mental illness are twice as likely to smoke cigarettes, and to be obese, as compared to the rest of the population. Poverty is another contributing factor to mortality, with poor nutrition and healthcare leading up to further economic troubles. For those of us with mental illness, seeking support and working daily to take better care of our health is critical for a longer and healthier life.
Dr. Weiden, professor of Psychiatry at the University of Illinois College of Medicine reiterated for The Huffington Post the ways those with serious mental illness experience earlier death. He stated,
“People with severe mental illness are less likely to take good care of themselves, more likely to smoke heavily and have sedentary lifestyles, and have more difficulty than most negotiating the complicated medical care system to go for appointments and follow-up care. And primary care physicians are not well trained or compensated for the additional complexities involved in diagnosing or treating medial problems in the severely ill.”
The shocking fact is that suicide is not the main cause of death for those with severe mental illness; it’s lack of support and appropriate day-to-day health management. This brings a call to action to those of us who have a mental illness, a call to action that we strive hard each day to take small steps towards improving our mental and physical health so that we may overcome our challenges and live a happy and fruitful life. It’s a call to action for our loved ones, to take better care of us and listen to our needs and concerns, to be someone whom we can rely on.
Avalon Malibu is a mental health and substance abuse recovery treatment program located in California. We believe that each person’s needs are important, and we will work with you to meet those needs. You do not have to suffer alone. We can help you develop tools to overcome the daily challenges of your mental illness, leading you to a happier life. Call us today at 888-958-7511 for a consultation.