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The Capital Region of Denmark - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital
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Infectious mononucleosis as a risk factor for depression: a nationwide cohort study

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BACKGROUND: Infectious mononucleosis is a clinical diagnosis characterized by fever, sore throat, lymph node enlargement and often prolonged fatigue, most commonly caused by Epstein-Barr virus infection. Previous studies have indicated that infectious mononucleosis can be followed by depression; however, large-scale studies are lacking. We used nationwide registry data to investigate the association between infectious mononucleosis and subsequent depression in this first large-scale study.

METHODS: Prospective cohort study using nationwide Danish registers covering all 1,440,590 singletons born (1977-2005) in Denmark by Danish born parents (21,830,542 person-years' follow-up until 2016); where 12,510 individuals had a hospital contact with infectious mononucleosis. The main outcome measures were a diagnosis of major depressive disorder (ICD-8: 296.09, 298.09, 300.4; ICD-10: F32) requiring hospital contact.

RESULTS: Infectious mononucleosis was associated with a 40% increased hazard ratio (HR) for a subsequent depression diagnosis in the fully adjusted model (HR: 1.40, 95% CI: 1.26-1.56;n=358), when compared to unexposed individuals. The increased risk of being diagnosed with depression was significant to the periods one to four years after the infectious mononucleosis diagnosis (HR: 1.40, 95% CI: 1.17-1.67;n=121) and ≥ five years (HR: 1.40, 95% CI: 1.22-1.61;n=207). We did not find any differences according to age (p=0.61) nor sex (p=0.30).

CONCLUSION: In this largest study to date, infectious mononucleosis in childhood or adolescence was associated with an increased risk of a subsequent depression. Our findings have important clinical implications and identifies youth with infectious mononucleosis as a group at high risk of later depression in young adulthood.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
Volume94
Pages (from-to)259-265
Number of pages7
ISSN0889-1591
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2021

    Research areas

  • Depression, Epidemiology, Epstein-Barr virus, Infectious mononucleosis, Psychiatry

ID: 62297061