There is an increased suicide risk for people who have serious infections, according to a study published online by JAMA Psychiatry.
The highest such risk was encountered with people who lived with hepatitis and HIV/AIDS. The psychological factors always prevailed over the biological factors, like an infection.
The new study reversed how it looked at these factors and looked at biological factors instead of looking at psychological factors first.
The study observed all individuals of ages fifteen or older from Denmark, through the 80s until 2011. This gave them a study population of over 7.2 million people. The study worked with a concept called history of infection. It was defined as one or more infection diagnoses since 1977.
The study revealed that for those hospitalized with infection there was a 42 percent increased risk of death through suicide, compared to people without any kind of infections. Another surprising finding was that the more infections somebody had and the longer the treatment was, the higher the suicide risk was.
Another scientific conclusion, which is also confirmed by other studies is that interferon, which is commonly used to treat cancers and infections, can lead to a huge inflammatory response from the human body.
In turn, up to 45 percent of people who are on interferon develop depression because of inflammation. There is a connection between inflammation and depression, and scientists believe that sometimes inflammation causes depression. It is not the only factor, but it can play a role.
The link between depression and inflammation is based on both human and animal studies.
The study had significant limitations because it could not establish whether the hospital treatment or disability because of severe infection could be to blame for suicide. Furthermore, it did not look at other important risk factors which can aggravate the risk for suicide, such as depression.
The findings indicate that infections have a bigger role in patient suicide than it was believed. However, more research is needed to indicate the exact mechanisms which contribute to suicide.
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