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Dr. Bryan Spader speaking to 250 providers in Fayetteville.

Words of Wisdom from Dr. Spader: Living 25 Years Longer

If your doctor has diagnosed you with a major mental illness, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, it is very important that you monitor your weight, exercise regularly, and eat a healthy diet. If you smoke, discuss stopping with your doctor.

Weight gain leading to obesity, a lack of exercise, and cigarette smoking are among the reasons persons with major mental illnesses live 20 to 25 years less than the general population. You may even be at higher risk if you have a family history of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart ailments, or stroke. Your doctor can monitor for these illnesses.

Some medications, especially those used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder may increase one’s appetite, and the illness may also make it harder to get motivated to exercise and eat healthy. Never stop taking the medication on your own. Thirty to forty percent of early deaths are due to accidents and suicide. These psychiatric illnesses are lifelong illnesses and stopping medication will cause serious symptoms to return with a high risk of psychiatric hospitalization.

If you feel you are having medication side effects, discuss your concerns with your doctor. Together discuss the side effects and benefits of the medications you are taking. Sometimes a medication change will be necessary and this will require that you and your doctor work very closely together. With a good relationship with your doctor you can maintain treatment of your mental illness and put together a plan to avoid weight gain and other serious risks to your health.

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