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Psychiatric Disorders and Biological Age

New research shows that people with a lifetime history of mental disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder or anxiety disorders have blood markers that suggest they are older than their actual age.

From King's College London, Dr. Julian Mutz and Prof Cathryn Lewis reviewed data on 168 different blood metabolites from 110,780 participants at UK Biobank. They correlated these data with information on whether individuals had a history of mental illness and found that those with psychiatric conditions had a metabolite profile that was expected to emerge at a later age.

Presenting the study at the European Psychiatry Congress in Paris, lead researcher Dr. Julian Mutz said:

“It is now possible to estimate people's age from their blood metabolites. We found that, on average, those with a lifetime history of mental illness had a metabolite profile that implied that they were older than their actual age. For example, people with bipolar disorder had blood markings that indicated they were about 2 years older than their chronological age.”

Health and life expectancy

People with psychiatric conditions tend to have shorter lives and lower quality of health than the general population. Impact estimates vary by mental health status. People with psychiatric conditions are often more prone to conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, and these conditions get worse with age.

A 2019 study found that the average life expectancy of people with psychiatric conditions (compared to the general population) is about 10 years shorter for men and seven years for women.

Doctor Mutz continued:

“Our findings show that the bodies of people with psychiatric disorders tend to be older than would be expected for an individual their age. "This may not explain all the difference in health and life expectancy between those with psychiatric problems and the general population, but it does mean that accelerated biological aging may be an important factor."

Study coordinator Dr. Commenting on the results, Sara Poletti said:

“This is an important study as it provides a possible explanation for the higher prevalence of metabolic and age-related diseases in patients with mental illness. Understanding the mechanisms underlying accelerated biological aging could be crucial for the development of prevention and tailored treatments to address the growing challenges of integrated management of these disorders.”


– NeuroscienceNews. (27.03.2023). Bodies of People With Mental Illness Are Biologically Older Than Their Actual Age.