Is Your Body Aging Faster Due to Mental Health Issues?


Your brain, mind, and body are all connected. Decades of research show that an unhealthy body can lead to brain and mental health issues. Now, there’s evidence that the opposite is true too. Research presented at the European Congress of Psychiatry in Paris in March 2023 reveals that individuals with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder, are biologically older than their chronological age. If you have a mental health disorder, this means your body may be aging faster than it should.


New research reveals that individuals with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder, are biologically older than their chronological age. Click To Tweet


The new research found that people with a history of psychiatric disorders have blood markers indicating their biological age is older than their chronological age. Lead researcher Dr. Julian Mutz said in a release, “It is now possible to predict people’s age from blood metabolites. We found that, on average, those who had a lifetime history of mental illness had a metabolite profile which implied they were older than their actual age. For example, people with bipolar disorder had blood markers indicating that they were around 2 years older than their chronological age.”

These findings dovetail with earlier research showing that mental health problems also accelerate brain aging. According to a large-scale study at Amen Clinics involving brain SPECT scans of more than 30,000 people, the brains of people with bipolar disorder looked 1.6 years older than the brains of those without the psychiatric condition.


Not only do mental health disorders increase biological age, but they also shorten lifespan and increase the risk of physical health problems with age. Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, chronic stress, and substance use disorders can take years off your life and make you feel and look older than your age.

  • Depression: Individuals who are depressed often have headaches, body aches, inflammation, or chest pain.
  • Anxiety: People with anxiety may experience irregular heart rhythms and palpitations.
  • Chronic stress: Unrelenting stress is associated with increases in certain hormones that cause metabolic changes that make you more likely to be overweight or obese and that negatively impact regions of the brain involved in memory formation.
  • ADD/ADHD: Having ADD/ADHD makes people more likely to have hypertension or obesity.
  • Bipolar disorder: Increased heart rate, stomach pains, and insomnia are some of the effects of this condition.
  • Substance abusers: People with drug or alcohol problems have a higher risk for liver disease and other ailments.


From a wellness standpoint, having depression, anxiety, chronic stress, ADD/ADHD, bipolar disorder, addictions, or other mental health issues should be viewed as a health emergency.  A growing body of emerging research confirms this. Here are some recent findings:

  • A 2022 study in BMC Medicine that analyzed health data on people with anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder found higher levels of frailty, a condition that heightens mortality risk, in all 3 of these mental health disorders. The highest risk of frailty was associated with bipolar disorder.
  • A 2019 study in The Lancet found that compared to the general population, people with mental health issues have a shorter life expectancy. Among those with mental health problems, men die an average of 10 years earlier and women lose about 7 years of life. At the highest end of the mortality, risk are men with substance use disorders, who die 14.8 years earlier than those without an addiction problem.
  • A 2022 study in JAMA Psychiatry shows that when people have mental health issues in addition to a physical health condition, it increases the risk of death compared with those who only have a physical condition. This study found that having a mood disorder on top of a medical condition increases the risk of death by 55%. People with an eating disorder in addition to a physical health issue heightens the mortality risk by over 300%.
  • A 2021 study in The Lancet analyzed 35 physical health conditions and found that having ADD/ADHD is associated with increased risk for 34 of them. Among these medical illnesses are fatty liver disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and obesity.

As the mounting evidence shows, mental health problems have a harmful effect on your physical body and have been associated with heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and dementia. Unless treated aggressively, depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, bipolar disorder, chronic stress, addictions, and other mental health issues will rob you of your ability to live a long, healthy life.


Although these findings seem dire, they should not be viewed as a death sentence. Rather, you should look at them as a wake-up call to seek treatment for mental health issues. By effectively treating depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, addictions, and other issues, you may improve your overall general health. Getting the right treatment is critical.

The brain SPECT imaging work at Amen Clinics, which includes over 225,000 brain scans on tens of thousands of patients from 155 countries, shows that mental health problems are not single or simple disorders. They all have multiple types.

SPECT measures blood flow and activity in the brain and shows 3 things: areas of the brain with healthy activity, too little activity, or too much activity. The SPECT scan database at Amen Clinics shows that there are:

Because there are different types of brain-based mental health issues, it means that giving everyone with depression, for example, the same treatment will never work. Antidepressants may work for some people with depression but not for everyone. In addition, depending on a person’s depression type, certain antidepressants may work better than others. Knowing your type is key to finding the most targeted and effective solutions.


Since your brain, mind, and body are interconnected, it’s critically important to address mental health issues to optimize your overall well-being and slow or reverse the aging process. Look for a mental health professional who understands the brain-body-mind connection. Take note that caring for your mental health is a daily practice. Simple strategies that help include:

  • Eat a brain-healthy diet that boosts mood, calms anxiousness, and calms stress.
  • Take nutritional supplements to support mental wellness.
  • Exercise every day to enhance mental sharpness and moods.
  • Practice stress-reduction techniques.

By making mental health a priority, you can slow the aging process, boost your physical health, and improve your life.

Depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, and other mental health issues can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, clinical evaluations, and therapy for adults, teens, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.


  1. My son has autism

    Comment by Thomas — May 5, 2023 @ 5:52 AM

  2. I live in Las Vegas,is there anywhere here I can get one of those SPECT scans?

    Comment by Kathy Harrington — May 5, 2023 @ 6:30 AM

  3. It would be interesting to see if once the mental disorder is resolved or the person did yoga/meditation if they got younger.

    Comment by Dharma — May 5, 2023 @ 8:56 AM

  4. I'm eating well now. I'm back in my vitamins. Garden. And exercise. I meditate. Yoga and Tai chi. I go to my roUom every day for a stress break.
    I'm an optimist. I have lived through husband's cancer surgery stroked out and became disabled.
    He decided to live under his rich daughter's care and left his responsibility as husband to me. 19 years lost by her undue influence. She moved him around from hospital to 2 nursing homes.
    We were still married. His heart doctors secretary finally told me where they had my husband 6 months later.
    His clinical psychologist told us to let him go and pick up the pieces of our lives and move forward when he was at the hospital the third month. He lost his emotional responsibility to me. He knew who I was! He knew our 16 yr old son. I felt so sorry for him.
    He told me she's a wealthy woman. Let her take care of me now. She can supply what I need. You are a poor woman. You can't take care of me! 19 yrs I loved him. I bought him food. I did most of the work kids and house. Cooking was a delight for me to make him a snack too. Desserts. I told him years ago to do his laundry. He was too fussy. I paid bills. I worked too. Nobody can comfort me on my loss ever! I went to counselling 7 yrs to hear I'm very intelligent. Over 180 IQ. I'm an artist. I make stained glass too. Ceramics. I write too.
    I'm a published poet. Im in a writing competition.
    I'm still in my home 37 years. My son helps me now. I'm a prayerful person. I believe in God. Only He helps me every day. I know now what I really lost. A very mean abusive alcoholic with no feelings for me at all. He always put her first. He told me I'm supposed to love my daughter more first than you my wife. Only an alcoholic could act that way to me when I was trying to help him come home to me! We tried a reunion 3 mos after hosp and nursing home his first time away.
    He tried to kill me with a knife shaped letter opener at my chest. I ran from my bed to another room to call police. They told me to put him away in nursing home. They would arrest me if I called them again. That's the help I was given. Zero.
    So I listened to my counselor. Not a great loss at all. I saved my own life. I told him to keave.

    His daughter and son in law millionaires picked him up at our convenience store. Our son drove him there. He never called our son. We did not know where he was located. She did not inform us.
    I do happy things every day for me now. 27 years In still paying a huge mortgage keeps going up. Not a good bookkeeper. He stopped paying his mortgage 1997 to 2000. He kept our SS. He got VA benefits 1,000. Month. No help to me. I had 2 kids at home. A tuition to pay. He left our son.. I found out where he lived. I drove our son to visit him. He says where are we! This is where your father lives. Go see him. A new nursing home! I'm brokenhearted syndrome. I will heal from him too. He died 2005. They cremated him. We were not invited to ceremony.
    I have no place to put my feelings. I write here. I share with some people. My family shuns me. My daughter shuns me too. We will get through this together. I listen to my son when he wants to talk. I'm glad that he is dead. I don't have to worry that he's talking about me anymore. I don't have to see his family anymore either. They decided to shun me in 1990. We got separated 1989. He left me. I did not know why until now. She had undue influence on him. I learned the term from attorney I contacted when my sister cheated us in Dad's trust. He picked her too. Somebody first always. Me last
    They are both dead now. 2 very mean cruel and abusive men. I'm so happy they are dead and gone forever. Today is May 6. My mother died in May 28. I get upset on anniv of people's deaths

    My sister repeated exactly what they did to me with our father. Moved him around place to place. Put him in nursing home too. Didn't tell anyone for 30 days. Hurt 4;siblings. 2019. It still hurts. She robbed his trust of our inheritances too. Cruelty greed and selfishness of others. Family members. Wealthy people too who only wanted more money. His daughter left me his bank account statement showing 165.00. Ugly person. I hated her our whole marriage. She told me to find a job so I can help Daddy.

    Peter Falks Law. Spouse refuses relatives of patient communication. Visits. Location and medical care. I went through it twice. I am still alive to tell about the cruelty of others. We loved them too! I have PTSD from domestic violence. My father best up my mother. I protected her. My husband pushed me into floor twice strangled me and bruised my arm. I asked him a question. Did you tape Who's the boss?
    Why don't you meet Gloria at a restaurant? When I asked you to go to work you did not. You went back to work when she asked you . He was UNEMPLOYED 6 YEARS SS TOLD ME I had 25 SS years credit more than he did. My husband was 31 yrs older than me. Bad decision.

    I don't want brain scan. I'm doing better.
    I enjoy your emails. Thank you. Dr Amen.

    Comment by Donna M Hopcraft — May 6, 2023 @ 4:11 AM

  5. Do the average age death statistics you used include those who die from accident, murder or suicide? It seems to me if those were included they might skew the results to show more of a correlation for chronic health issues and those mental conditions mentioned. Not that those causes of death aren't important, it's just that they don't relate to your discussion of chronic and acute health issues. Also, it might have been stressed that the behaviors those of us with ADD or other mental conditions is probably a large part of the equation. If you aren't treating your mental health conditions you will have a much harder time following the instructions and practices needed to treat the physical conditions. Developing and following heathy routines including daily exercise, diet, taking meds as prescribed and even making and getting to medical appointments is critical. I bring these things up because my first impression of the article was that the mental conditions in themselves were the problem not how they might contribute to activities (or inactivity) that exacerbates the physical conditions. For example if you take your antidepressant but don't use you improved focus and ability to act to care for yourself better, the meds themselves are unlikely to improve you physical health.

    Comment by JAYME LYONS — May 6, 2023 @ 10:37 AM

  6. I may be interested in a spec scan but I have Medicare and Wellcare ? what would be my out-of-pocket expense

    Comment by Sonya Kennedy — May 7, 2023 @ 1:47 AM

  7. In becoming a Registered Music Therapist long ago, I had to take courses as "Influence of Music On Behavior" "Psychology of Music" "Music in Therapy". Working in a short term psychiatric hospital I was privileged to fill a doctors prescription for Music Therapy for depression "express anger toward ex spouse. I did using body movement of pt stomping on paper cups place around the floor while I "bashed" out low notes from the piano in rhythm to her stomping. In our "talk down" pt expressed feeling a "best" over previous session moving to other emotions and admitted imagining the cups to be the head of ex spouse!! Using my documentation others in pt's group were able to connect and support her ongoing treatment.

    Thank you Dr Amen for making this important mind /body connection in your information. As a music therapist I always advocate music to keep your mood happy and positive. My daily affirmation is "I am getting younger by the day and have GOOD chemicals flowing through my WHOLE body." Then I have a good laugh. Nobody believes I'm 93. For good reason. I'm NOT lol. Spread laughter for the good chemicals. Comedian Bob Newhart and his wife were married 60 yrs and attributed laughter for their longevity.

    Comment by Robert Kuchenmeister BM-T — May 7, 2023 @ 10:45 AM

  8. Hello Sonya, thank you for reaching out. For more information about brain SPECT scans and our services, please contact our Care Coordinators:

    Comment by Amen Clinics — May 8, 2023 @ 4:41 PM

  9. Hello Kathy, thank you for reaching out. Amen Clinics currently has 11 locations nationwide: For more information about brain SPECT scans and our services, please contact our Care Coordinators:

    Comment by Amen Clinics — May 9, 2023 @ 9:52 AM

  10. Thank you for this information!

    Comment by douglas morris — May 11, 2023 @ 5:16 PM

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