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Can Having Mental Illness Shorten Your Life?

Those living with a severe mental illness such as, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or severe depression live on average 20 years less than people without a mental illness.

One of the biggest reason these people live shorter lives is due to the stigma of mental illness. If you don’t suffer from mental illness then you don’t understand the struggle they face every day.

Anybody with diabetes or cancer would not even think twice about seeking treatment for their illness. Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, Dr. Peter Weiden states,

“Many reasons conspire to create this shameful statistic. 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 medical problems in the severely ill.”

This is a growing problem in our country and it is not a surprise with what is going on in this world. But making sure our society is educated about the problem can help save lives.

Will this make a change? There’s an uproar from the media and our politicians when there is poor healthcare for the military, children, women or ethnic minorities.

Everyone went crazy when one person died of Ebola. We should be deeply ashamed of ourselves for neglecting the severely ill, creating a system that imprisons them, renders them homeless, and allows them to die so young.

It has been known for many years that individuals with serious mental illness were more likely to have medical problems like diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease, but most of the concern was on suicide prevention and other kinds of injuries that come from poorly controlled psychiatric symptoms.

It’s time to make a change and be accepting of those around us who are suffering from this invisible disease.

How can we fix this broken system?

You can read the full article Having a Severe Mental Illness Means Dying Young

 Photo credit V. Threepio

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