New findings published in the British Medical Journal uncovered a link between poor mental health and shorter life spans, even at relatively low levels of psychological distress.
Researchers from the University of Edinburgh and the University of London examined the data of 68,000 adults aged 35 and above collated by the Health Survey for England between 1994 and 2004.
A recognised scale ranging from no symptoms to severe depression and anxiety was used to determine the mental state of the survey participants.
The team of researchers then looked to see if people who reported symptoms were more likely to have passed away over an intervening period of eight years.
It was shown that those with anxiety and depression were a greater risk of premature death, resulting from issues like cardiovascular disease.
However, the researchers stressed the link was unlikely to be down to unhealthy lifestyles, but that poor mental health could cause biological triggers of certain diseases.
Senior author for the study Dr David Batty explained: "This increased mortality is not simply due to people with higher levels of psychological distress having poorer health behaviours."
According to Dr Tom Russ, Alzheimer Scotland research fellow at the University of Edinburgh, these results should prompt more investigations into whether mental health treatments could alleviate the increased risk of death.
Head of neuroscience and mental health at the Wellcome Trust John Williams suggested more action needs to be taken to address the needs of people suffering from depression and anxiety.
"People with mental health problems are among the most vulnerable in society," he said.
"This study highlights the need to ensure they have access to appropriate health care and advice so that they can take steps to improve the outcome of their illness."