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Poor mental health and lower life expectancy (England)

September 6, 2012

A large British study published in the July issue of the British Medical Journal found that research subjects who had experienced symptoms of anxiety or depression had a lower life expectancy than people who did not have symptoms of psychological distress.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 68,000 people ages 35 years and older, who took part in the Health Survey for England between 1994 to 2004. The survey included a mental health assessment section that measured indicating no depression or anxiety to severe states of distress.

After following participants for an average of eight years, researchers were able to analyze and correlate mental health scores with mortality. Because they adjusted for lifestyle factors such as weight, exercise, smoking, alcohol consumption and diabetes, the authors believe that biological factors resulting from psychological distress were likely the basis of the association, rather than unhealthy lifestyles causing poor mental health.

The researchers went on to find that about a quarter of the participants with even minor mental health challenges, had a higher risk of premature death from a variety of causes. Authors speculated that treating even minor symptoms of depression and anxiety could reduce the risk of premature death.

To read the online summary, “Poor Mental Health Linked to Premature Death” in Medical News Today go to

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