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This reprint validates a key premise in this nonprofit Web site - that
people who don't reduce
neglect, abandonment, and abuse die prematurely. See my
comments after the article.
The links and hilights below
are mine. -
Peter Gerlach, MSW
+ + +
mental disorders are two times more likely to die early than their peers in
the general population — and not just because of factors like suicide, a new
More than half of the early deaths analyzed in the study were blamed on
natural causes, such as acute and chronic illnesses like heart disease.
"I think it's an important study that's drawing attention to the general
health risk that's associated with a range of psychiatric disorders," said
Dr. Mark Olfson, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, who
wasn't involved in the study.
hundreds of studies going back decades that produced data on the mortality
rates of people with mental health disorders, such as schizophrenia,
depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. A group of researchers, led by
Elizabeth Walker, of Emory University in Atlanta, recently reviewed this
massive body literature.
Using data from 148 studies conducted in several countries, Walker and
colleagues found that the death rate
for people with mental disorders was, on average, 2.22 times higher than
that of people in the general population. (Mortality rates usually
refer to the deaths that occur during a specific study's time frame. The
studies covered in the new analysis varied widely in length — from 1 to 52
years, with a median of 10 years.)
Overall, people with mental
disorders potentially lost a decade of their lives, the analysis
"When people think about the risk of death for people with mental health
problems, they often focus on suicide because it's so tragic and traumatic,"
Olfson told Live Science. But people with mental health disorders face many
other health problems — such as high rates of smoking, poor diet, lack of
exercise and a lack of medical care — that can lead to an early death,
"Rates of smoking have come down for the general population, but that hasn't
been true for people with serious mental health problems," Olfson said.
"It's factors like that that are increasing the gap."
Indeed, about 67 percent of the
deaths analyzed in the study were blamed on natural causes, while
about 17 percent were due to unnatural causes, such as suicide and
accidental injury. (The rest of the deaths in the study had unknown causes.)
The researchers wrote that suicide-prevention efforts are still crucial for
high-risk populations with mental disorders. But efforts to reduce the
"excess burden of mortality" among people with mental health issues also
need to look at ways to prevent deaths that result from health problems like
cardiovascular disease. That might mean addressing behavioral and lifestyle
factors, access to health care, and social factors like poverty.
The study was published online today (Feb. 11, 2015) in the journal JAMA
These research findings imply
a significant connection between "mental health" and physiological health
Publishing this study in a
leading psychiatric journal implicitly supports the
misconception that "mental health
problems" are medical "illnesses" rather than indicators of major
This article doesn't (1)
define "mental health," (2) what promotes "
mental health problems," or (3) offer practical suggestions about how to
such problems. This leaves readers to form their own conclusions about these
complex topics. Typical lay readers lack enough knowledge about "mental
health" to do so accurately.
My professional family-systems
research since 1979 suggests that "mental or psychiatric" problems are
symptoms of inherited psychological
The wounds form in early childhood because of caregivers'
abandonment, neglect, and abuse (trauma)
If this is true, then the
findings of this research offer powerful incentives to parents and
grandparent to (1) learn about the toxic [wounds + unawareness]
and to then (2)
whether they're at risk of unintentionally wounding the young people in
their lives and shortening their life-span.
Lesson 1 in this
nonprofit, educational Web site offers more detail on early-childhood
wounding and how to prevent and heal it.
- Peter K. Gerlach,
Pause, breathe, and reflect: what are you thinking and
feeling now? Why did you read this article? Did you get
what you needed? If not, what
you need? Who's
these questions - your