A significant portion of the global population has suffered from stress at some point in their life. Stress-related disorders can affect the quality of life, but their effect on infections is not apparent. The objective of this study is to assess the association between stress-related diseases and life-threatening infections.

This population and sibling-matched cohort study included 144,919 individuals with stress-related disorders, adjustment disorders, acute stress reactions, and mental health conditions. These participants were compared with 184,612 full siblings of individuals with stress disorders and 1,449,190 individuals without any diagnosed mental health disorder. The primary outcome of the study is the diagnosis of severe infections with high mortality rates, like meningitis, endocarditis, and other life-threatening infections.

After eight years of follow-up, the incidence of life-threatening infections per 1000 person-years was 2.9 in individuals with stress-related disorder, 1.7 in siblings, and 1.3 in matched individuals. Out of all stress-related disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) had the highest risk of life-threatening infections (1.92). Among infections, the highest risk was associated with meningitis and endocarditis.

The research concluded that stress-related disorders were associated with a subsequent risk of life-threatening infections. PTSD had the highest incidence of infections, and the risk of meningitis and endocarditis was the highest.

Ref: https://www.bmj.com/content/367/bmj.l5784