Mental Health Might Play a Causal Role in Increasing TB Risk: Study

Adult and child hands holding lung, world tuberculosis day, world no tobacco day, corona covid-19 virus, eco air pollution; organ donation conceptAccording to a new study, individuals affected by mental health illnesses such as depression and schizophrenia may experience an increased incidence of tuberculosis (TB). The research was presented at this year’s European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (ECCMID).

Poor mental health has been previously shown to influence the immune system, but researchers are now looking into specific illnesses that could be a result. Tuberculosis and mental illness are both urgent global health priorities across the globe and have been known to co-exist.


This is what set Sally Hayward and colleagues at the Institute for Infection and Immunity, St George’s, University of London, in collaboration with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the University of Nottingham, and Columbia University to find out if mental illness plays a causal role in TB infection or increases the individual’s risk of developing the disease.

For the study, researchers screened data taken from 607,184 individuals across Asia, South America, and Africa over 50 years. Mood and psychotic disorders were analyzed, such as depression and schizophrenia.

It was found that both depression and schizophrenia were associated with an increased risk of developing active tuberculosis. Those with depression were found to be 15% more likely to have tuberculosis compared to those without depression, and schizophrenia was associated with a 52% increased risk of tuberculosis.

The study also went further in the analysis of 242,952 subjects who were from low and middle-income countries and found that individuals with tuberculosis were more than three times more likely to suffer from depression compared to people without the disease.


The authors of the study concluded, “Our data show that individuals with mental illnesses including depression and schizophrenia experience increased TB incidence and thus represent a high-risk population that could be targeted for screening and treatment. Integrated programs providing care for mental health and TB are needed, and interventions that tackle mental illnesses and their underlying drivers may help reduce incidence of TB globally.”

An Increase in Tuberculosis

This study helps to show the relationship between mental health conditions and TB. Researchers believe that mental health may play a causal role in increasing tuberculosis, potentially through its effect on the immune system.

With a growing concern about mental health worldwide, more research is needed to link any potential health conditions that could have a higher risk. Health care providers are urged to help address the global burden of mental illness and approach mental and physical health holistically when possible.

Author Bio

Sarah began her interest in nutritional healing at an early age. After going through health problems and becoming frustrated with the conventional ways doctors wanted to treat her illness (which were not working), she took it upon herself to find alternative treatments. This led her to revolutionize her own diet to help her get healthier and tackle her health problems. She began treating her illness by living a more balanced lifestyle through healthy food choices, exercise and other alternative medicine such as meditation. This total positive lifestyle change led her to earn a diploma in Nutritional Therapy from Health Sciences Academy in London, England. Today, Sarah enjoys helping others by teaching healthy lifestyle changes through her personal consultations and with her regular contributions to the Doctors Health Press. Also, passionate about following her dreams in life, Sarah moved to France and lived in Paris for over 5 years where she earned a certification in beadwork and embroidery from Lesage (an atelier owned by Chanel). She then went on to be a familiar face sitting front row and reporting from Paris Fashion Week. Sarah continues to practice some of the cultural ways of life she learned while in Europe. They enjoy their food, and take the time to relax and enjoy many of life’s little moments. These are life lessons she is glad to have brought back home with her.