The flu comes with a host of nasty symptoms, including full-body aches and possibly vomiting and diarrhoea. Naturally, this leaves many people feeling down, and they will feel even more drained as their body bounces back from using energy to tackle the disease. However, research shows there is a link between the flu and clinical depression. New research suggests the flu may cause low-level damage which could predispose people to develop depression in the future.
What are the symptoms of the flu?
According to the CDC, the mains symptoms of the flu are:
– Fever or feeling feverish/chills
– A sore throat
– A runny or stuffy nose
– Muscle/body aches
– Fatigue (tiredness)
– Vomiting or diarrhoea (most common in children)
London-based doctor Daniel Hack Tuk found the first link between depression and influenza in 1892.
He observed influenza patients showed higher levels of depression compared to patients suffering from different diseases.
In 2016 Delia Bornand, a PhD researcher with the University of Basel and a team of scientists analysed the association between influenza and depression in a large sample of patients.
The team used a sample of people from a clinical database, and a selection of case reports.
They said: “Case-reports provided evidence that influenza infections, particularly severe episodes, may exert neuronal damage in the CNS (nervous system) and thereby increase the risk of depression.
“We conducted a case-control analysis between 2000 and 2013 using the large UK-based primary care database Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD).
“We encompassed 103,307 patients below the age of 80 years with an incident major depression diagnosis between 2000 and 2013, and matched each case to one control patient on age, sex, general practice, number of medical encounters, and years of history in the CPRD prior to the index date.”
They found contracting the flu came with an increased 1.30 percent risk of developing depression further down the line.
The authors said: “Patients with a previous influenza infection had an increased risk of developing depression compared to patients with no history of influenza infections.”
If the infection came within 30-180 days of testing, the risk increased by an additional 0.27 percent to 1.57 percent overall.
They concluded: “An increasing number of previous influenza infections was associated with increased odds.
“This study suggests that influenza infections are associated with a moderately increased risk of developing depression.”