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Establishing a Correlation Between Suicide and Lyme Disease


Robert Bransfield, MD, DLFAPA, private practice, Psychiatry, in Red Bank, New Jersey, explains how he was able to establish a correlation between suicidal risk and Lyme disease.

Interview Transcript (modified slightly for readability):

“In establishing a causal association [between suicidal risk and Lyme and associated diseases] I looked at a few things. One, I looked at the literature review, and then I looked at patients. Now, [when it comes to] the literature review, I looked at a couple of things. One was, there is a correlation in people who were outdoor workers; [they] had a higher risk of suicide compared with librarians. And veterans have a higher risk; although you can explain it maybe in more than one way, they’re also in basic training in that environment where they may be at risk. And there’s a fair amount of tick-borne diseases at many of the bases where basic training occurs. So, that’s one correlation; an epidemiological correlation. You can also see that there are certain geographical patterns to suicide.

Now, the next thing is looking at the medical literature with correlating infections, in general, being associated with suicide risk, particularly chronic infections, particularly when it’s in close proximity to the infection. Then the next thing is looking at the medical literature of case reports of patients who have had Lyme disease who become suicidal who were not suicidal before acquiring Lyme disease. Then the next way I looked at it was, I looked at my case histories of people, of patients that I’ve treated and gone through a chart review, and saw the correlation with suicidal risk that occurred after having Lyme disease, that was not present before Lyme disease. The control group was these patients before they acquired Lyme disease. And so, when I added that up, there was certainly a very clear correlation between Lyme disease and suicide in a certain percentage of people.”

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