Depression From a Parasite?

Brain inflammation caused by a parasite may be preventable

(RxWiki News) A common parasite may be linked with increasing chances of suicide attempts. Toxoplasma gondii is usually harmless to most healthy people, but research shows that it can inflame brain tissue and damage brain cells.

A recent study tested two groups of people for Toxoplasma gondii. Results found that in the tested population, those with the parasite, were seven times more likely to attempt suicide.

"If you’re thinking about suicide, talk to your doctor immediately."

Lena Brundin, MD, PhD, associate professor of experimental psychiatry at Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine, led a study that looked at 54 adults who had attempted to commit suicide from 2006-2010 and 30 controls.

Each person was evaluated for self-directed violence and suicide attempts and tested for T. gondii.

This study found T. gondii was capable of inflaming brain tissue due to infection.

Results found that people with T. gondii were seven times more likely to attempt to commit suicide.

Authors assured that most people with T. gondii don’t attempt suicide. T. gondii increases the risk of certain people predisposed to depressive symptoms to develop self-harm behavior.

Dr. Brundin said, “I think it’s very positive that we are finding biological changes in suicidal patients.”

“It means we can develop new treatments to prevent suicides, and patients can feel hope that maybe we can help them.”

“It’s a great opportunity to develop new treatments tailored at specific biological mechanisms."

This study was published in July in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Funding was provided by the Swedish Research Council and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, no conflicts of interest were found.

Review Date: 
August 21, 2012