Time to take a closer look at treatment of mental diseases.
We all know tobacco as a killer. It was first found about 18.000 years ago in America and since then its main method of administration has been smoking. This tobacco use is recognized as a major cause of several diseases such as heart diseases, strokes and cancers of the respiratory system. Tobacco is said to kill more people than alcohol, AIDS, traffic, murderers and suicides combined. It is even known that people who live with smokers have 30% more chance of getting lung cancer than the ones who don’t smoke and live with non-smoking partners.
So people who smoke and live with smokers must have a significantly reduction in life expectancy? True. But what if mental illness is worse?
Researchers from the University of Oxford performed a meta-review based on clinical studies of mental illness. These included mental health problems, substance and alcohol abuse, dementia, autistic spectrum disorders, learning disability and childhood behavioural disorders. They found that most of these reduce life expectancy with 7 to 24 years, whereas heavy smoking reduces life expectancy with 8 to 10 years.
Dr Seena Fazel: “We found that many mental health diagnoses are associated with a drop in life expectancy as great as that associated with smoking 20 or more cigarettes a day.”
This goes against everything we would expect. However, there is an explanation. Besides mental illnesses’ association with high risk behavior, like alcohol abuse, drug abuse and suicide, it is suspected there is also something going wrong in the treatment of people with mental illnesses. It seems that they are often only treated for their psychological malignancy, although these patients often suffer other draw backs, like physical illness.
Mentally affected people might see a doctor fewer times, because their disease and the resulting alienation from everyday life can prevent it. For instance, they might believe they are okay when they are not. Alcohol and drugs’ abusing patients frequently deny their condition and the same might happen with other diseases.
Since mental illnesses are the arising problem of modern society, more care should be given to those who are affected. Depression is one of the most severe cases of nowadays afflictions for which counseling and treatment should be reviewed. Mental illness is not a stand alone problem and there might be more to it than meets the eye, therefore an effort must be made to get to the bottom of the disease and treat it the best we can.
Chesney E, Goodwin GM, Fazel S (2014). Risks of all-cause and suicide mortality in mental disorders: a meta-review World Psychiatry
deadly, life expectancy, smoking, death, mental illness, mental disease, schizophrenia, depression, treated, physical