According to the University College London and Edinburgh team who carried out the study, low-level distress thought to occur in around one in four of the population, raises the risk of early death by 16% (this is after lifestyle factors such as tobacco use and alcohol consumption were taken into account).
More serious mental health conditions such as schizophrenia for example, increased the risk by 67%.
We already know from previous research that individuals with severe mental health problems stand a higher risk – but now evidence is continuing to emerge to suggest that milder cases too can have an impact, especially as many of such cases go undiagnosed.
According to lead author of the study Dr Tom Russ, increased risk of mortality was evident from the study, even at low-levels of psychological distress – and this alone should warrant further research into whether treatment for these milder symptoms can bring the risk of death back down again.
Rethink chief executive Paul Jenkins commented on the findings and said that sadly they don’t come as much of a surprise.
“While this study looks at depression and anxiety, people with severe mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia die, on average, 20 years earlier than the rest of us. It’s an absolute scandal.
“There is a huge lack of awareness amongst health professionals about the increased risk of physical illness for this group, which means people are dying needlessly every day.”
Often we are guilty of downplaying how we feel in a bid to try and wallpaper over the cracks, but this often marks the start of a mild problem developing into a far more serious one. If you are concerned that your emotional wellbeing isn’t at its optimum, whether you are experiencing a constantly low mood or you just feel that something isn’t quite right – don’t hide it – visit your GP and talk to someone you know and trust.
Talking to a counsellor in a confidential and neutral environment may also help you to understand, explore and overcome what you are going through.
For further information about how counselling can help anyone experiencing a mental health problem, please visit our fact-sheet to find out more.
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