First-of-its-kind study finds people with PTSD were 1.8 times as likely to have any infection as those without PTSD, ranging from being 1.3 times as likely to have meningitis, to 1.7 times as likely to have influenza, to 2.7 times as likely to have viral hepatitis.
First-of-its-kind study: people with PTSD 1.8 times as likely to have any infection as those without PTSD
A new Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) study is the first to examine the relationship between post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and dozens of infection types in a nationwide cohort. Published in the journal Epidemiology, it is also the first to find that PTSD affects infection risks for men and women differently, having, for example, more of an effect on a woman’s risk of urinary tract infection and a man’s risk of skin infection.
Study suggests PTSD and chronic severe stress are damaging for physical health
“Our study adds to the growing evidence suggesting that PTSD and chronic severe stress are damaging for physical health,” says BUSPH doctoral candidate Ms. Tammy Jiang, who led the study. This underscores the public health importance of PTSD prevention and treatment interventions, she says.
How the study was conducted
Ms. Jiang and colleagues from BUSPH, Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, the University of Vermont, and the Emory University Rollins School of Public Health used Danish national records to look at the health histories of every Danish-born Danish citizen who received a PTSD diagnosis from 1995 through 2011, and matched each person with a comparison group of Danes of the same sex and age. The researchers then compared the Danes’ histories of hospital care for 28 different kinds of infections. After adjusting for other physical and mental health diagnoses and for marriage/registered partnership, the researchers found that people with PTSD were 1.8 times as likely to have any infection than those without PTSD, as well as calculating the increased risk for each of the 28 kinds of infection.
Researchers compared men and women with PTSD, here’s what they found
Next, the researchers compared men and women with PTSD. They found that having PTSD had more of an effect on a woman’s risk for several kinds of infection–most notably urinary tract infection–than on a man’s risk. Having PTSD also had more of an effect on a man’s risk of certain other kinds of infection, most notably skin infection.
- Jian, T. et al. (2019) Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Incident Infections: A Nationwide Cohort Study. Epidemiology. doi.org/10.1097/EDE.0000000000001071
Razi Berry is the founder and publisher of the journal Naturopathic Doctor News & Review, which has been in print since 2005, and the premier consumer-faced website of naturopathic medicine, NaturalPath. She is the host of The Natural Cancer Prevention Summit and The Heart Revolution-Heal, Empower and Follow Your Heart, and the popular 10 week Sugar Free Summer program. From a near death experience as a young girl that healed her failing heart, to later overcoming infertility and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia through naturopathic medicine, Razi has lived the mind/body healing paradigm. Her projects uniquely capture the tradition and philosophy of naturopathy: The healing power of nature, the vital life force in every living thing and the undeniable role that science and mind/body medicine have in creating health and overcoming dis-ease. Follow Razi on social media: Find her on Facebook at Razi Berry, on Instagram at Razi.Berry, join her Love is Medicine group to explore the convergence of love and health, and find more Love is Medicine podcast episodes here.