Apparently, a large number of people with Bipolar are at risk from an early death not from Suicide (which they are at higher risk of), but medical illnesses, a number of studies of around 331, 000 patients showed.
Illnesses contributed to early death were attributed to the following:
unhealthy diet, binge eating, lack of exercise, smoking, substance abuse, social deprivation, living alone, homelessness, lack of access to health services, biased attitudes of health professionals towards people with psychiatric illnesses, failure among psychiatrists to address their patient’s medical problems, or delaying medical care because of the overriding need for psychiatric treatment.
So, in brief, people with Bipolar live alone, are homeless (which comes with an additional raft of health issues) – often in part because of their mental illness, can’t access the help they need with regard to their social or mental health issues, and the people they do need in the health services appear to be biased against them.
What an amazing developed society we live in, where people who live with mental illness are defined alone by their mental illness, where even their psychiatrists fail to deal with the medical issues presented.
The stress connected with damn Bipolar can also have an impact too:
The illness can stress the immune system and the hypothalamic-pituitary axis, a system that controls many body processes. Bipolar disorders also heighten the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, which sets off the fight-or-flight response to stress.
Well, I for one know how stressful this illness can be. Worrying about losing my job. My friends. Whether I’m wasting my heath team’s time (you know, the one’s who fail to deal with my medical issues). Whether I actually need my medicine. Whether I should take my meds. Whether people walking down the street know. And more importantly, when the next episode will happen.
I live on tenterhooks. I’m constantly on pins. My flatmate entering the room or flat at an unexpected time makes me scream hysterically. It’s ridiculous. Thank God for Valium.
And any sufferers out there know the impact that the medication can have on your weight. Weight gain is common for those of us taking the medication which it takes to keep us stable. This can lead to:
obesity and other metabolic changes that predispose people to Type 2 diabetes [and is] associated with weight gain and metabolic disorders.
And in my humble opinion (based on the fact that this is one of my greatest worries), this is a key reason as to why life expectancy could be shortened.
- You take your meds. So you gain weight. So you stay in. Because your ashamed to go our in your elasticated waist pants and velcro sandals.
- And who wants to exercise when you’re depressed? So you don’t go out. You hide in bed. Because you can wear elasticated jim jams there.
- And you can’t afford to buy bigger clothes anyway. And you’ll get arrested and sectioned if you go out ‘nekked’….. so you stay in. And get bigger……
- And if you can’t work, you can’t afford to buy healthy food. Turkey twizzlers are much more affordable. So the weight keeps piling on…..
- Oh, and when you’re in a depressive state, I’m sure you’re all up for a nice piece of spinach instead of a huge toblerone (not me, btw)
And then, of course, this can all lead to type 2 diabetes which can become an issue in it’s own right, where, according to NHS in the early stages or as a preventative, you need to make lifestyle changes, which include:
taking regular exercise [please see point 2], eating healthily [please see point 4], and losing weight [please see point 1]
NHS Direct (Jan 2014)
So, in short, the 10-15% of us that don’t commit suicide are at higher risk of dying an early death just because we’re Bipolar. So get those elasticated waist slacks on and get out and exercise guys. That seems to be the message. Oh, and ditch the burgers. Eat erm…… yummy other stuff instead. Just what you want when you’re feeling like your world’s falling to pieces (see point 5).
Apart from that, if you think you’re getting a shonky deal from the health centre, give ’em something to think about, and make sure you tell them you feel icky!
Unless stated, this post is based on the report below:
Bipolar Disorder Linked To Risk Of Early Death From Natural Causes
Date:February 4, 2009 Source:University of Washington Summary:
People with bipolar disorder have a higher death rate from natural causes compared to people in the general population of the same age and gender but without mental illness.