At Duke University, a team of researchers demonstrated how mental illness in early childhood could transpire into poor health well into adulthood. The new findings could pave the way for better intervention early in life to prevent subsequent diseases in later life.
Published in JAMA Psychiatry, New Zealand-based participants were evaluated, all born in either 1972 or 1973.
According to researchers, the participants with a history of mental adversities during early childhood had aged quicker, exhibiting deterioration in cognitive functions at a rate not observed in others. Mental health problems included anxiety, depression, substance use, and psychotic disorders.
“In this cohort study, a history of psychopathology was associated with accelerated aging at midlife, years before the typical onset of age-related diseases. This link is not specific to any particular disorder family but generalizes across disorders,” the journal report reads.
“Prevention of psychopathology and monitoring of individuals with mental disorders for signs of accelerated aging may have the potential to reduce health inequalities and extend healthy lives.”
As mentioned in the journal report, the research team suggests preventative measures should be taken at an early age to inhibit the risk of developing a disease later in adulthood.
The study was funded by various organizations or institutions including the National Institute on Aging.