We are now living in an era where the voice about mental health has become a normal topic of discussion in public spheres. Many have understood the importance of addressing mental illness as a problem among people. The reason for that is because many studies prove that people suffering from mental illness die sooner than the general population.
Earlier there was a stigma that revolved around mental health, psychology, and mental illness. It still does among some of the people, but we can say that many have evolved. But people who suffer from serious mental illness have a state of psychological distress in them which can lead to higher chances of self-harm.
When we talk about mental illness going to the extent of death of a person. We need to address the main reason and the diseases that contribute the most to it and what mental illness tends to do.
1. What Is Mental Illness?
Mental illness is a condition that an individual suffers that involves changes in emotions and thinking behavior. It has an impact on the way a person perceives the world around them and causes a disturbance in an individual’s cognition.
People with mental illness have some basic traits or symptoms that we can see compared to others, to identify a person as mentally ill. These differ from one disease to another.
However, the worst category of all is people with severe mental illnesses who suffer from an increased risk of functional impairment that affects the day-to-day life of an individual. Mostly these people will be above the age of 18 and facing some serious problems with their daily activities.
2. How Do You Die From Mental Illness?
There are different types of mental illness which we will see about later in the article. But there are high chances of people dying from those if not treated properly. We all know suicide is the major cause of killing people who have mental illness.
When people suffer from any mental disorders, they tend to feel hopeless, and helpless and makes them find all the reasons to give up on life. But we can’t just put the social, and financial factors as the only reasons for this problem among people. With media reports flooding with news regarding high-profile people killing themselves or dying because of mental illness.
People with severe mental disorders have a higher chance of reduction in their life expectancy from around 10-25 years, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It means they die 10-25 years earlier than the general population.
We all know heart disease is one of the major causes of death among many people. Two-thirds of the people with severe mental illness died majorly from heart attacks and strokes. Well, these diseases are common, but even a slight amount of increased risk of death will shoot the numbers up.
And one of the major causes of mental illness is premature mortality. This is the death that occurs before that person attains the average age of what their specific population lives. Untreated physical health problems are one of the main reasons for the premature death of a person.
So it is really unfortunate that these mental health problems make a person feel so negative that it makes them think the only way out of their misery is to kill themselves. Mental illness is also associated with lifestyle risk factors like smoking, physical inactivity, and substance use.
3. Which Mental Illnesses Causes More Death?
Mental illness in general can put a person’s life in danger and present a relative risk factor during their life. But there are some that rank on top of the list that cause more deaths than the rest of those. You would think depression, schizophrenia, or bipolar are some of the most common mental illnesses that lead to an early death.
The mental health conditions that have increased mortality rates are eating disorders. It has its own health-related risks that can affect many of your body systems. So, it makes them one of the deadliest of all psychiatric illnesses ever. An estimated 30 million Americans live with eating disorders.
A person who suffers from a severe eating disorder ends up compromising their essential body functions which contributes to their deteriorating health conditions. This goes to the extent of having lifetime health problems or even death.
Anorexia is an eating disorder that contributes to the highest death rate of all other mental illnesses. This condition is quite complex that restricts food or nutrient intake which leads to loose weight. This is one of the deadliest eating disorders and has an excess mortality rate of 6% because they restrict nutrient intake which leads to malnutrition. Not only that it leads to other complications like digestive system complications, and heart disease and decreases their cognitive functions.
One of the main reasons why Anorexia is a deadly mental disorder is the fact that they are not taken seriously. Healthcare providers are not vigilant enough to take strict actions to find its causes in the earlier stages. These are not just a phase that people will get over in some time.
4. How Many People Die From Mental Illness?
When we take the amount of deaths that have occurred due to mental illness. Especially in the United States, the numbers are in millions annually. The mortality rates between people with mental disorders and the general population have increased over the years.
Approximately 8 million people die from mental illness each year. There are a lot of mental disorders that people can die from if not treated properly. And when we talk about death from mental illness, we also need to include the suicide rates as they are one of the major factors. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 700,000 people die because of suicide every year and it has become the fourth leading cause of death among teenagers.
5. Major Mental Illnesses
When you hear the word mental illness, the majority of people think of depression. Because it is the most common and serious mental illness that negatively affects the way you think. It has the power to create physical and emotional problems in your life causing distress to your lifestyle.
Feeling sad for most of the time, negative thoughts, suicidal thoughts, sleeping trouble, loosing interest in activities are some of the symptoms of a depressed person. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 5% of people suffer from depression globally.
There are a lot of mental health services and prevention programmes that have shown to reduce depression. It also has psychological and medication treatment for a person to free from depression.
It is a serious mental illness that affects a person’s ability to feel, think or behave clearly. Most people with this mental illness may seem like they are lost in touch with reality. Schizophrenia results in a combination of hallucinations, delusions and disordered thinking patterns. These are some of the major symptoms of this mental illness.
And one of the major roles in the development of schizophrenia is genetics and the environment in which the person lives.
The treatment for Schizophrenia for now is to make sure that the patient manages their symptoms and lives a normal life by doing their regular activities. They have Antipsychotic medications, Psychosocial treatments, and Assertive Community treatments to help the patients recover.
5.3 Borderline Personality Disorder
Unstable moods, relationships, and behavior patterns in a person that have a severe impact on the way a person feels about themselves and the way they think is Borderline Personality Disorder.
Fear of abandonment, unstable relationships, unclear self-image, extreme emotional mood swings, feelings of emptiness, and enraged anger can be some of the major symptoms of this mental disorder.
This mental illness will put the person in the most intense emotional pain and distress that can put them in mental agony. One can get this through natural causes like genetics. Psychotherapy is the best way to find a cure for this disorder and help the person cope with their disorder.
5.4 Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings in a person from manic highs to depressive lows. A person with bipolar disorder will feel hopeless and lose interest in most of the activities in their life. These will affect the ability to think clearly for a person.
It is a lifelong condition, but if treated properly the person can manage their mood swings and other symptoms. Decreased need for sleep, restlessness, and hypomanic episodes.
One of the main causes of this mental illness is the physical changes that happen to a person in their brains. And with proper usage of drugs and treatment. It can prove to ease the lives of people with mental illness.
5.5 Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
It is a disorder that comes to people who have failed to recover from some traumatic event, an experience that has shocked them. This condition, just like others, doesn’t have a specific time frame within which a person can recover. This could go on for months or years depending on the level of impact that incident has implanted on the person’s brain.
Panic attacks, lack of sleep, lack of concentration, and extreme alertness are some of the major symptoms of PTSD. The emotional and physical reactions that accompany the traumatic incident will trigger the person to give flashbacks.
To recover from PTSD, it is advisable to engage in therapy sessions by consulting a therapist and proper medications only if necessary and recommended by the doctor.
A person who is suffering from mental illness or disorders. They would always tend to think in a negative sense. And as these negative thoughts of hopelessness and helplessness prolong, there are higher chances of them dying because of it. It may happen because they self-harm in the form of suicide or eating disorders that can affect the functioning of your body.
Specific causes for some of the mental illnesses are still unknown. The research on mental illness and the origin of various types of mental illnesses is an ongoing investigation by many psychologists in their case study research across the globe.
But the main thing right now is to make sure that the taboo surrounding mental illness, mental health, and disorders that are broken now are going to be the same in the future with even more openness in conversation regarding these topics that are a main concern for the future.
People with severe mental illness should be considered in the high-risk physical illness population. There are a lot of studies that give a clear picture of the lack of physical health care for those with mentally ill health. One of the main things that people with mental illness are affected by is their lifestyle. Be it the routine of going to therapy sessions, programs for stopping smoking and usage of recreational drugs should be made normal. There should not be a single factor that makes them feel different in an already difficult war with their thoughts.
There are a lot of different mental illnesses that are being mentioned in the article. These are one of the important causes of premature death among the people. These people live less than what an average person should live. Isn’t that concerning? Even after knowing this some of us ignore this fact. But the important thing to do is to tackle this health injustice and find a way to improve public health.
Everyone needs to live a satisfied life and to achieve that equal status should be given to mental health care as we do now to physical health care. And once we start to do that, we can see improved lives of people and happiness in them.