Living With Schizophrenia

People With Schizophrenia Are Dying Too Early

Posted: Friday, October 20th, 2017

Image: Tyler Olson on Shutterstock

A new study published in the US has revealed that the poor life expectancy of people with schizophrenia is getting worse. Although it has been known for some time that people living with schizophrenia will die earlier that the general population this study has shown that the “longevity gap” is not getting better but is continuing to widen.

The study was carried out at the University of California, San Diego and reported on line by Medscape News in September. The report author, Dr Dilip Jeste said “People with schizophrenia mostly die from physical illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, stroke or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease ……. Things that usually kill people in their 70s 80s and 90s will kill people with schizophrenia when they are still in their 40s, 50s and 60s”.

Although this study was carried out in the US it reviewed previous studies done in both the US and Western Europe and confirms what doctors in the UK have known for many years: that even allowing for the high suicide rate, people living with schizophrenia will die earlier than their counterparts in the general population.

The current guidelines issued by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, the UK body which establishes standards of care in the UK, requires doctors to provide regular monitoring of physical health and referral to support services such as smoking cessation. However in practice provision of this monitoring has been very patchy and in areas where it has been provided take up by patients with schizophrenia has sometimes been disappointing.

Living with schizophrenia has published two information sheets on their website to help people with schizophrenia who are concerned about their physical health:  Physical Health looks at some of the physical health conditions associated with schizophrenia and their likely causes and Exercise looks at the problem of a sedentary lifestyle and what can be done about it.

Physical health is another example of the way in which the appallingly high death toll of this cruel condition remains one of the largely unmet public health issues of our day. It is time for doctors and politicians alike to wake up and start to take notice of this nationally significant issue.

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13 Responses

  1. Diana Garcia says:

    I really need information on how to deal with my loved one suffering with schizophrenia.I there is no hope.Please contact me thank you.

    • David Bell says:

      I wish we could help with more information for carers but I have to admit that the website is still a work in progress and we do not have as much for carers as we would like. You may find this page helpful though David.

    • Beth Eby says:

      Diana Garcia,
      Please look for a support group in your area to help you deal with the mental illness of your loved one.
      My husband and I have been attending one and found it to be such a help to hear how others are dealing with their loved ones.
      There is an understanding among our group that can’t be found among other friends no matter how much they want to help.
      If you can’t find one, possibly you can start one. So many caregivers are hurting but hesitate to talk about it.

  2. p k shrivastava says:

    My son at the time of 12 th std age 20 yrs was detected with schizophrenia by a psychiatrist initially we have taken very lightly and given medic ens after completion of his btech he got the job and worked successfully from 2011 to 2014 then he got the scholarship for higher studies in usa he completed the masters. in 2016 he got the phd admission .
    during the period 2005 to 2016 he was quite well and we never thought that he is suffering with this type of disease. suddenly in 2017 may he become upset . now we are not in position to understand what to do he is not willing to work only mind is diverted towards the sex he is now 30 yrs .
    we are now sr citizen we feel help less and now we have kept ourself aloof from the society .
    we are also not able to take him to psychologist he says he is quite well he did not want to meet the other peoples. pl advis me

  3. Nydia says:

    HI my son is schizophrenia

    what can i do to help him he is only 20 years old everyone is always saying the same thing there nothing we can do unless he wants help .. he doesn’t know he needs help the law needs to change a parent should be allow to help a child with medical needs

    • David Bell says:

      Thank you Nydia. Unfortunateley we do not have as much information on our website for carers as we would like but we are working to improve this including trying to address this problem. Please watch this space.

      • JeanieK says:

        My son is 20 also and recently diagnosed bipolar 2 schizoaffective disorder. Contact your crisis hotline and explain and demand a DMHP(designated mental health provider) to come do a home evaluation. I wish you luck and the help and support needed.

  4. Janice reid says:

    My mum has schizophrenia. She refuses help. Is there a herbal remedy
    I am carer but can’t claim carer allowance . She does nt except except she ill

  5. Janice reid says:

    My mum has schizophrenia. She refuses help. Is there a herbal remedy
    I am carer but can’t claim carer allowance . She does nt except except she ill

  6. Susan Daniel says:

    My son has recently died after jumping from a bridge
    On to a motorway. He had suffered for over ten years with schizophrenia I don’t feel that there is enough help for people in his situation.

    • Nancy B says:

      Very very sorry for your loss Susan. I agree there are not enough services and unfortunately there are far too many people in need. This is the same for people with physical illnesses…..however there is so much more stress it seems when it is an illness of the mind, as there is the added burden of dealing with a loved one who may be in denial. It is a time disease…they have to get insight after many months or years and then they stick to the treatment.
      I wish more could be done. Pehaps more education for the new generation so they are aware and educating the educators as they are in the best position to pick up on early signs of psychosis. If 1% of the population is going to suffer from a mind illness then catch it earlier through educating people.
      Again, I am sorry for your loss. Peace be with you.

  7. Rose says:

    on YouTube on the internet: Bill Macphee does videos of himself talking: life after mental illness… he also wrote To Cry a Dry Tear and was a speaker in Canada about his experience with schizophrenia.. he’s married with a family… he talks about how he just stayed on his parents couch for 5 years until got the right meds… Schizophrenia has negative symptoms too.. lack of motivation, and not showing emotion are two of them.. also no desire to be around other people.. these are common ones I have heard other parents mention that their adult children have.

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