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What Is The Life Expectancy Of People With Mental Illness?

On average, a human can live as long as they wish to. However, living a long life is not an easy task for those with mental illnesses – schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in particular.

The life expectancy of people who have schizophrenia is 10 years shorter than their healthy counterparts, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health. That makes the illness one of the top 10 leading causes of death in the country. The main reason for this shortened life expectancy is suicide.


The life expectancy for people who have bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive disorder, is reduced by about 10 years, according to WebMD . This statistic holds true regardless if the person has been diagnosed with bipolar I or bipolar II. Bipolar I is defined as a manic episode that lasts at least a week, and a major depressive episode lasting two weeks or more. For those who have bipolar disorder II, the depressive episodes are shorter and not as severe .

People who have schizophrenia and bipolar disorder both experience psychosis – delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized thinking. Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme mood swings between depression (feeling sad) and mania (feeling overly excited). Schizophrenia does not consist of such mood swings – episodes can be either positive or negative, but are typically much more severe.


While both mental illnesses tend to affect people in young adulthood, the symptoms manifest differently. While those with bipolar disorder may suffer depression first and mania later, those with schizophrenia usually experience paranoia as the first sign that something is wrong.

The correlation between having a mental illness and living a shorter life has been known for decades, but environmental factors also play an important role in how long someone will live. People with mental illnesses are more likely to smoke, abuse drugs , and not eat well – all of which can lead to early death.

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Another factor that affects life expectancy is how each person responds to their disorder. Some patients will live longer than expected because they take their medication as prescribed, while others may live less time because they avoid treatment. The patients who take their medication daily and manage to stave off depression – which usually leads to drug abuse or suicide – have a higher chance of living longer.

Although those with mental illnesses live shorter lives on average, some do exceed this statistic. This is mostly the case for those who have bipolar disorder as opposed to schizophrenia . In general, those with the illness who are diagnosed at a younger age live longer than those whose diagnosis occurs later in life.

The best way to ensure that someone with bipolar disorder lives long is by maintaining their health, according to Psychology Today. This includes getting plenty of sleep , avoiding drugs and alcohol , eating properly, exercising regularly, and – most importantly – continuing treatment for their disorder.

Schizophrenia is a particularly difficult mental illness to live with and often requires round-the-clock care, making healthy living difficult for many sufferers. However, the same general lifestyle changes that improve the prognosis of bipolar disorder can also help those who have schizophrenia lead longer lives.


With more than five million Americans suffering from bipolar disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health , there are millions whose lives could be significantly prolonged if they stay committed to their treatment plan. Similarly, more than 1.1 million Americans live with schizophrenia today, according to the NIMH.

With so many people affected by mental illness, it is important that every case receives the attention it needs. Living a long life with any of the conditions is possible with proper care and treatment, so patients should seek medical advice to determine which options best suit their needs.

The average person who suffers from bipolar disorder lives about 29 years after diagnosis, according to WebMD . This number is reduced by about 10 years in those who have schizophrenia, according to Psychology Today.

When it comes to life expectancy for those who have mental illness, living a healthy lifestyle is the best way to increase one’s lifespan. This can be accomplished by avoiding drugs and alcohol, eating right, exercising regularly, getting plenty of sleep , and continuing treatment for the disorder. The main thing that will prevent someone from living a long life is abandoning treatment, so it should be continued as recommended by a doctor.

People with bipolar disorder live about 29 years after diagnosis. Those with schizophrenia live about 20 years. Living a healthy lifestyle helps those who have mental illness increase the number of their expected years of life.







3 responses to “What Is The Life Expectancy Of People With Mental Illness?”

  1. Peter Jumba. Avatar

    Thanks for sharing this tutorial.


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