Something Life Insurance Companies Need to Know

The average life span for someone with a serious mental illness is 25 years shorter than someone in the general population, a gap that has been largely overlooked even though an estimated 10.4 million American adults … fall into that category, said Dr. Stephen Bartels, director of Dartmouth College’s Centers for Health and Aging.

People with serious mental illnesses such as depression or schizophrenia are more likely to smoke and be obese, putting them at greater risk for diabetes, heart disease and other chronic disease. And medications used to treat their mental illnesses often cause weight gain or leave them feeling too lethargic to exercise.

Full article on the In SHAPE program for mentally ill individuals in The Washington Post.

Comments (4)

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  1. Bruce says:

    They just need to add one more line to their application form: Are you crazy?

  2. Linda Gorman says:

    People with mental illness are more likely to commit suicide. That may be why their average life span is 25 years shorter, but if the article explains that, I missed it. Excessive smoking and drinking are viewed as attempts as self-medication.

    The atypical antipsychotics used to medicate schizophrenics reduce the suicide rate but cause weight gain and are associated with diabetes onset.

    The claim that all of this has been overlooked is simply not true. But it makes a good story.

  3. Buster says:

    This is not surprising. Certain conditions are highly correlated with other risky behaviors. It’s difficult to say whether depression causes or exacerbates some of this risky behaviors; or if the behaviors are comorbidities along with depression. In some cases, depressed people may actually engage in risky behaviors to elevate their depressed serotonin levels.

  4. Devon Herrick says:

    I agree with Linda. Smoking and especially drinking is likely an attempt to self-medicate. That reminds me of a cartoon I read in a newspaper years ago.

    Two men were sitting in a bar drinking… One man says… “I’m going switch antidepressants.” His friend replied… “Oh really?” The man then elaborates… “I’m changing my brand of beer.”