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Association Between Virus Exposure and Depression

Psychiatry Res; ePub 2017 Dec 20; Gale, Berrett, et al

Mood disorders are common mental illnesses and among the factors associated with major depression are exposures to infectious diseases, including hepatitis C, influenza, varicella-zoster, and herpes viruses. In a recent study, researchers evaluated further associations between viral exposure and depression. From the US Center for Disease Control's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, they obtained data about depression status, antidepressant use, exposure to hepatitis A, hepatitis B, herpes simplex virus type 1, herpes simplex virus type 2, human immunodeficiency virus, and cytomegalovirus, plus sociodemographic variables, and evaluated associations between depression and viral exposure in adjusted multivariable models. They found:

  • Herpes simplex virus type 2 was associated with an increased risk of depression, whereas hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and herpes simplex virus type 1 were not.
  • Higher cytomegalovirus antibody levels were associated with depression in subjects seropositive for cytomegalovirus.
  • In conclusion, exposure to herpes simplex virus type 2 and possibly cytomegalovirus is associated with depression.


Gale SD, Berrett AN, Erickson LD, Brown BL, Hedges DW. Association between virus exposure and depression in US adults. [Published online ahead of print December 20, 2017]. Psychiatry Res. doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2017.12.037.

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