Far more women die from mental illness-related causes than men, at a rate of almost two to one, according to new data that explores the link between mental illness and death.
The study, commissioned and released by Florida rehabilitation clinic the Florida House Experience, reveals how devastating mental illness can be to those who suffer from it.
A Grim Prognosis
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), adults with mental illness in the United States die, on average, 25 years earlier than Americans without mental illness. That means that one in five Americans are at risk from an early death from mental illness.
Of course, mental illness is not, in and of itself, a fatal disease. But those who suffer from mental illness often engage in behaviors that contribute to an early death, such as smoking, alcohol abuse, or drug abuse. And of course, mental illness often drives its victims to suicide. Further, the mentally ill often live in poverty or even homelessness, meaning that they’re at risk for being victims of crime; or they’re exposed to harsh elements; and have limited access to good nutrition, medical care, and community support services.
Even further, mental illness often prohibits those who suffer from it to commit suicide.
A Disproportionate Affect On Women
Perhaps even more devastatingly, mental illness is fatal in women disproportionately over men — by a two-to-one margin. Specifically, 64 percent of deaths from mental illness occur in women, while 36 percent of such deaths occur in men.
The reason for this, the study authors speculate, is that women are less likely to seek out medical treatment for mental illness; or, if they do seek it out, they’re less likely to get adequate care. That’s because, as studies indicate, women are seen as “hypochondriacs” who are exaggerating or even making up their illnesses and pain.
Further, one of the most prominent forms of mental illness affecting teen girls and young women is anorexia nervosa, which can often be fatal. According to Science of Eating Disorders, anorexia affects females seven times as much as males; its companion illness, bulimia, affects 11 times as many females as males.
The Urgency Of Treatment
Treating mental illness is not easy, but going without treatment is dangerous. Mental health affects Americans of all races, sexes, and socio-economic strata, and ignoring it helps no one. Make sure that you or your loved ones, at the first signs of mental illness, advocate for the care you, and they, need.