Depression Tied to HAI

Researchers at the University of Michigan Health System found that depressed adults who take common antidepressants have an increased risk of developing Clostridium difficile (also known as “CDF/cdf”, or “C. diff”,), a serious healthcare associated infection.

“We have long known that depression is associated with changes in the gastrointestinal system. In our research, we have shown that adults with depression are more likely to develop C. diff. infection — a potentially fatal infection,” said lead author Mary Rogers, Ph.D., M.S., a research assistant professor at the University of Michigan Medical School.

The study claims that Individuals with major depression were 36% more likely to develop C. diff. infection than those without depression. Also adults who were widowed had a 54% greater risk than those who were married.

Drugs like Remeron (mirtazapine) and Prozac (fluoxetine) have previously been linked to gastrointestinal side effects, now showing twice as much likelihood of testing positive for C. diff., however the researchers noted that most types of antidepressants did not affect infection risk.

It is still unclear whether the increase in risk of infection is due to microbial changes in the gut during depression or to the medications associated with depression, the researcher said.

Clostridium difficile, is a species of Gram-positive bacteria of the genus Clostridium that causes severe diarrhea and other intestinal disease when competing bacteria in the gut flora have been wiped out by antibiotics. C. diff. is the most serious cause of antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD) and can lead to a severe inflammation of the colon, often resulting from eradication of the normal gut flora by antibiotics. C. diffi. infection (CDI) can range in severity from asymptomatic to severe and life-threatening, especially among the elderly. People are most often nosocomially infected in hospitals, nursing homes, or other medical institutions, although CDI in the community, outpatient setting is increasing. The rate of C. difficile acquisition is estimated to be 13% in patients with hospital stays of up to two weeks, and 50% in those with hospital stays longer than four weeks (see article).