Mental Illness Comparable to Heavy Smoking in Reducing Life-Expectancy

mental health
General Health

mental healthWe often dismiss our mental health, our stress, our anxiousness as trivial – thinking that only our physical maladies are worth any notice, but a new study from the University of Oxford has shown that serious mental illness is just as bad for our health as heavy smoking – sometimes taking an entire decade off our lifespan.

Our collective mental health is in trouble, too. According to the Mind/Body Medical Institute at Harvard University, 60 – 90% of all medical office visits in the United States are for stress-related disorders. This aspect of our health is just as important, if not more so, than our physical health.

While it was serious mental health disorders that were examined in the Oxford study, long-term depression was also assessed. It turns out that a reduction in life expectancy accompanied many mental disorders – with a range between 9 and 20 years being robbed from someone’s time on earth. Bipolar disorder was the worst, with a decrease in up to 20 years in a person’s lifespan, while schizophrenia ranged between 10 and 20 years, between 9 and 24 years for drug and alcohol abuse, and up to 11 years for recurring depression.

While these numbers are telling, it is a rare mental health expert that does something aside from prescribe meds to individuals having trouble coping with stress, or undergoing bouts of severe cognitive dissonance. There are numerous other methods of ‘rewiring’ the brain to a more positive and uplifting attitude aside from popping Cymbalta, Prozac,  Xanax or Ativan pills.

Read: Scientists: Creativity is Part of ‘Mental Illness’

Even people with bipolar disorder have benefited from mindfulness meditation, and deep breathing exercises. Also, people with schizophrenia, depression, or any other number of anxiety related disorders can benefit from different autogenic practices, including deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and meditation.

Sometimes depression is simply caused by a traumatic event or life-changing moment that can be hard to deal with. These issues need to be addressed at their core instead of muting the symptoms with pharmaceuticals. These drugs may offer temporary solace, but they don’t retrain the brain and nervous system to deal with stress in a healthy way. Having a good spiritual family, and spending time with friends and loved ones also helps to boost mood more than many drugs meant for the same purpose.

While you may want to treat severe mental health with pharmaceutical drugs, there are numerous other ways to help boost this vital aspect of our overall well being.

Check out these articles to learn how:

Antidepressant Use Up 400%: 5 Ways to Boost Happiness Naturally

How the Mental Health Industry Creates Disease, Works with Big Pharma