Schizophrenia is often referred to as one of the most severe mental disorders, primarily because of the very high mortality rates of those with the disorder. This article reviews the literature on excess early mortality in persons with schizophrenia and suggests reasons for the high mortality as well as possible ways to reduce it. Persons with schizophrenia have an exceptionally short life expectancy. High mortality is found in all age groups, resulting in a life expectancy of approximately 20 years below that of the general population. Evidence suggests that persons with schizophrenia may not have seen the same improvement in life expectancy as the general population during the past decades. Thus, the mortality gap not only persists but may actually have increased. The most urgent research agenda concerns primary candidates for modifiable risk factors contributing to this excess mortality, i.e., side effects of treatment and lifestyle factors, as well as sufficient prevention and treatment of physical comorbidity.


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