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One-third of patients diagnosed for the first time with a mood disorder have also been previously admitted to the hospital with an infection.
In a new study, the largest of its kind, researchers show a clear correlation between infection levels and the risk of developing mood disorders.
For instance, a person may experience an infection of the stomach or urinary tract or in the skin. The infection may appear to be over, but the physiological distress seems to continue unseen. The new PhD project shows that many people subsequently suffer from some type of mood disorder.
“Our study shows that the risk of developing a mood disorder increases by 62 percent for patients who have been admitted to hospital with an infection,” explained Michael Erikson Enros, MD, PhD, from Aarhus University and Psychiatric Centre Copenhagen. “In other words, it looks as though the immune system is somehow involved in the development of mood disorders.”
The study is a register study which followed more than 3 million Danes between 1977 and 2010 using their patient registers. More than 91,000 of these people had hospital contact in connection with a mood disorder. While examining these medical records, the researchers discovered that 32 percent of these patients had previously been admitted to the hospital with an infectious disease and about 5 percent had been admitted with an autoimmune disease.
“Normally the brain is protected by the so-called blood-brain barrier (BBB),” explained Benros, “but in the case of infections and inflammation, new research has shown that the brain can be affected on account of a more permeable connection between the immune system and mood disorders.”
Future research on this connection may help to prevent mood disorders and improve treatment.
Source: Aarhus University
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