Clinical, epidemiological, and biological evidence raises the possibility that serious mental disorders (SMDs) are associated with accelerated biological aging. To the extent this is true; SMDs should not simply be considered in terms of mental illness or brain dysfunction, but also as ‘whole body’ and multisystem illnesses, or else as conditions with significant somatic concomitants.
The concept of accelerated biological aging in SMDs is supported by reports of accelerated changes in certain biomarkers normally associated with the aging process.
We define and discuss several proposed biological aging markers that have been examined in SMDs, we review the most recent findings, and we conclude with opinions regarding the merits and meanings of these markers, their usefulness in understanding and treating SMDs, and remaining questions and future directions in this area of research.
aDepartment of Human Neurosciences, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy
bDepartment of Psychiatry, UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences
cDepartment of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine, San Francisco, California, USA
Correspondence to Owen M. Wolkowitz, 401 Parnassus Ave, Box F-0984, San Francisco, CA 94143-0984, USA. Tel: +1 415 476 7433; e-mail: Owen.Wolkowitz@ucsf.edu