This shocking research was reported by a team of psychologists at numerous universities and hospitals in Edinburgh and London. The research team examined the death records of 68,000 middle aged and older people whose mental health was examined in the decade from 1994 to 2004.
The results that were most shocking were that people who did not deem their mental symptoms severe enough to bring to the attention of their GP were 20 percent more likely to die in the ten year trial than those with no symptoms of anxiety, stress or depression.
It was reported that individuals in the study suffering from sub-clinical anxiety and depression were 29 percent more likely to die from heart disease and stroke as well as from external causes such as road accidents and suicide.
The research which was published in the British Medical Journal suggested that people suffering from depression, anxiety or stress were more likely to partake in risky behaviour or not care for themselves as well as their healthy counterparts. For example, someone with depression or anxiety may have been more likely to smoke, eat a poorer diet and do less exercise.
However, these factors were only reported to account for a small proportion of the link between mental illness and premature death. Other research has suggested that the thoughts and emotions created by disorders such as major depressive disorder, anxiety and chronic stress change the physical body, wear down the immune system and cause chronic inflammation in cells of the body.
Mindfulness meditation has been shown to significantly reduce subjective levels of stress, anxiety and depression. Additionally, it has been found to reduce levels of stress hormones and enhance the immune system. Mindfulness is non-toxic, cost effective and is regarded by the NHS as an effective means of treating mental disorders and preventing relapses.