By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

A new study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry links Lyme Disease to elevated risk of psychiatric illness.

”black-legged ticks”, Ixodes scapularis

It has long been suspected that Lyme disease may increase the risk of psychiatric disorders, including depression and suicidal ideation. However, knowledge to date has been based on small studies of limited numbers of patients. The ground-breaking study by Dr. Michael Eriksen Benros of Copenhagen University Hospital and Dr. Brian Fallon of Columbia University was a large, epidemiological analysis of Danish health, labor, and administrative registries that collected data from almost 7 million people over 22 years.

This population included more than 12,000 people diagnosed with Lyme disease. Beyond its large sample size, the paper also adjusts for age, sex, comorbidities, and socioeconomic factors that may also influence mental illness.

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This study found that with a single diagnosis of Lyme disease, there is a 24% increased risk of any mental disorder, including depression. With two or more episodes of Lyme disease, that risk increases to 79%. Moreover, people with Lyme disease have a two-fold higher risk—75% higher—of dying by suicide than those without Lyme disease. The elevated risk of mental disorders was highest in subjects age 20-29, suggesting the particular vulnerability of young people.

Of the study’s results, Lead Investigator Dr. Benros says, “Treating clinicians and patients should be aware of an increased risk of mental health problems, particularly the first year after a severe Lyme disease infection, and if mental health issues arise, patients should seek relevant treatment and guidance.”

The two-year study was funded by the Global Lyme Alliance (GLA).