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Stress Related Disorders Related to Increased Morbidity in Patients with Severe Infections

Posted Monday, December 2, 2019 by Carl-Erich Kruse

It is largely understood that increased psychological stress is related to compromised immunity and increased susceptibility to infections. The connection is more significant (and therefore severe) in patients with stress related disorders like PTSD, and their susceptibility to severe infections. A recent study out of Sweden provides greater detail to the types of patients and types of illnesses that require greater attention by clinicians.

Stress related disorders include post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), acute stress reaction, adjustment disorder, and other stress disorders. Severe infections were considered those with high fatality like sepsis, endocarditis, meningitis, and central nervous system infections. The researchers discovered that, accounting for variables including medical history, circumstances of infection, and family history, patients had a higher mortality risk for severe infections than patients with similar histories but lacking a diagnosed stress related disorder. Though the absolute risk of infections, and in turn, mortality from the infections remained low, the relative risk between the two populations was significant. The reasons are presumed to be many, and the basis for further research.

The takeaways are that patients with long-term stress disorders, especially those with conditions since childhood, demonstrated a marked susceptibility to sever infections when compared to the general population. This is important in that a patient’s significant psychiatric history is relevant for planning treatment of patients with systemic infections.

For victims of medical malpractice this is particularly troubling because many that survive their ordeals live with some of form of diagnosable stress disorder. So, while patients have survived what may be the worst experience of their lives, they perpetually carry the (newly acquired) increased susceptibility to devastating infections down the road. It is also informative for clinicians when developing treatment plans for patients exposed to or facing these types of infections.

Read the original study here: Stress related disorders and subsequent risk of life threatening infections: population based sibling controlled cohort study

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