Depression, anxiety can raise risk of mortality: Study

Updated: Aug 01, 2012, 14:21 PM IST

London: People with mild mental illnesses such as anxiety or depression may have a shorter lifespan, a new research has claimed.

Researchers from University College London and Edinburgh University found that low level distress raised the risk of mortality by 16 per cent while more serious problems increased it by 67 percent, the BBC News reported.

The study looked at the premature deaths from conditions such as heart disease and cancer of 68,000 people in England.

While the risk among those with severe mental health problems is already well documented, the finding among those with milder cases - thought to be one in every four people - was concerning, as many would be undiagnosed.

The study which was published in the British Medical Journal, looked at data over 10 years and matched it to information on death certificates.

"The fact that an increased risk of mortality was evident, even at low levels of psychological distress, should prompt research into whether treatment of these very common, minor symptoms can modify this increased risk of death," lead author Dr Tom Russ was quoted by the BBC.

"While this study looks at depression and anxiety, people with severe mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia die, on average, 20 years earlier than the rest of us," Paul Jenkins, chief executive of a UK-based charity said.