A recent study has revealed that mental illness does not only have psychological impacts but also physical ones. The authors believe that mental disorders make a person age faster.
The study, which was presented at the 2023 European Congress of Psychiatry in Paris, suggests that people who have a history of mental disorders, that is, they have experienced it for a long time, including depression and anxiety, have blood markers that reveal that their bodies are older than they are supposed to be.
The findings help us understand why people with mental illnesses have shorter life compared to healthy people.
The researchers studied the data of 168 blood metabolites of 110,780 participants in the UK Biobank. King's College London professors Julian Mutz, PhD, and Cathryn Lewis, PhD analysed 168 blood metabolites with the Nightingale Health Platform. Next, they linked that data with a history of mental disorders.
The authors concluded that people with mental health issues showed a metabolite rundown older than their actual age.
Mutz said that people's physical age could be predicted by analysing their blood metabolites.
"We found that, on average, those who had a lifetime history of mental illness had a metabolite profile which implied they were older than their actual age. For example, people with bipolar disorder had blood markers indicating that they were around 2 years older than their chronological age," Health News quoted Mutz as saying.
The results can be explained by the fact that mental health issues cause physical complications. Mental health patients suffer from an increased risk of certain health problems, sleep issues, and appetite problems.
Another study in 2019 showed that those with mental disorders have a shorter lifespan. They found a ten-year cut for men and a seven-year cut for women.
"If we can use these markers to track biological aging, this may change how we monitor the physical health of people with mental illness and how we evaluate the effectiveness of interventions aimed at improving physical health," Mutz added.
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