Infectious Disease

Lyme disease increases the risk of mental disorders, suicide

August 10, 2021

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People diagnosed with Lyme disease in a hospital were at increased risk of mental disorders, mood disorders, attempted suicide, and suicide, according to a nationwide cohort study conducted in Denmark.

“Several [prior] Studies were characterized by small sample sizes, bias of findings, lack of a suitable control group, use of poorly specified or non-standardized criteria for the diagnosis of Lyme disease, dependence on clinical samples, use of non-validated measured variables, lack of control of confounding variables or a. hinders cross-sectional design, ” Brian A. Fallon, MD, MPH, from the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University in New York, and colleagues wrote in the American Journal of Psychiatry. “In view of the methodological limitations of previous studies, the connection between acute or post-treated Lyme disease and mental disorders and suicide remains uncertain.”

Infographic data derived from: Fallon BA, et al. Am J Psychiatry. 2021; doi: 10.1176 / appi.ajp.2021.20091347.

The researchers conducted a nationwide retrospective cohort study to assess the rate of mental disorders after a diagnosis of Lyme disease. They used Denmark’s national patient registry and the central psychiatric research registry and included data from all 6,945,837 people who lived in Denmark between 1994 and 2016. Using this data, they assessed the risk of mental disorders and suicidal behavior in all 12,156 people diagnosed with Lyme disease in inpatient and outpatient hospital contacts.

Fallon and colleagues used poison regression analysis to calculate incidence rate ratios (IRRs).

The results showed higher rates of mental disorders (IRR = 1.28; 95% CI 1.2-1.37), affective disorders (IRR = 1.42; 95% CI 1.27-1.59), suicide attempts ( IRR = 2.01; 95% CI 1.58.). -2.55) and death by suicide (IRR = 1.75; 95% CI, 1.18-2.58) in those with vs. without Lyme disease. The researchers found a connection between the 6-month interval after diagnosis and the highest rate of mental disorder (IRR = 1.96; 95% CI, 1.53-2.52) and a connection between the first 3 years the diagnosis and the highest fixed suicide rate (IRR = 2.41; 95% CI 1.25-4.62). People who had more than one Lyme disease episode had elevated IRRs for mental disorders, mood disorders, and suicide attempts, but not for suicide death.

“Although the absolute population risk is small, clinicians should be aware of the potential psychiatric consequences of this global disease,” wrote Fallon and colleagues.

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