Excess mortality of mental disorder.
E C Harris, B Barraclough


BACKGROUND We describe the increased risk of premature death from natural and from unnatural causes for the common mental disorders.

METHOD With a Medline search (1966-1995) we found 152 English language reports on the mortality of mental disorder which met our inclusion criteria. From these reports, covering 27 mental disorder categories and eight treatment categories, we calculated standardised mortality ratios (SMRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for all causes of death, all natural causes and all unnatural causes; and for most, SMRs for suicide, other violent causes and specific natural causes.

RESULTS Highest risks of premature death, from both natural and unnatural causes, are for substance abuse and eating disorders. Risk of death from unnatural causes is especially high for the functional disorders, particularly schizophrenia and major depression. Deaths from natural causes are markedly increased for organic mental disorders, mental retardation and epilepsy.

CONCLUSION All mental disorders have an increased risk of premature death.