Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Death and Mental Illness

Huffington Post

May 11, 2010

Lloyd I. Sederer, MD

Deadly Consequences: Why We Need to Integrate Health and Mental Health

Dr. Sederer talks about how people with severe mental illnesses die an average of 25 years younger than the general population--
He talks about lifestyles, the lack of a medical home, the contribution of medications to chronic illnesses, nicotine, and the role of prevention and early diagnosis.

Alarming evidence has emerged in recent years, from studies of people treated in the public mental health care system, that adults with serious mental illness die on average 25 years earlier than the general population. For a decade or two before their demise they suffer from early onset diabetes, high blood pressure, heart and lung disease and cancer. Why? Their habits place them at great risk for these conditions. They eat poorly, are sedentary and don't have a primary care doctor -- or if they do they don't go and get preventive and ongoing physical healthcare. They smoke heavily, with more than three out of four being nicotine dependent (see my previous blog on this issue here).

The psychiatric medications many receive for their mental illnesses increase the likelihood of weight gain, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Mental health professionals have discovered what the Craig family painfully learned: physical disability and early death add to the burden of mental illness for those affected and their families. The burden does not stop there since our health care system, already groaning from the weight of the consequences of American habit disorders, shoulders the extraordinary health costs of this high need population.

What can be done? A lot.

Click here to read the whole article. Well worth reading.
Lloyd I. Sederer, MD