Brian A. Fallon, MD, MPH (Moderator)

Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons
Director, Lyme & Tick-Borne Diseases Clinical and Research Centers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center
New York, NY

Depression, Suicidal Behaviors, and Lyme: Results from a Nationwide Study in Denmark

Dr. Fallon is the Director of the Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Clinical and Research Centers at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center. A graduate of Harvard College, he obtained his MD degree from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, as well as a master’s degree in public health epidemiology from Columbia University. He did his research training and an NIH fellowship in biological psychiatry at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center and the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Dr. Fallon’s research has focused on neuropsychiatry — the discipline that studies the behavioral and mood effects of diseases that affect the brain. His particular areas of research focus in Lyme disease include phenomenology, diagnostics, neuroimaging, biomarker, and treatment studies. Dr Fallon has lectured on Lyme disease nationally and internationally and was the lead investigator of one of the NIH-funded U.S. Clinical Trials of Post-Treatment Lyme Disease (PTLD). Dr. Fallon has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles, review papers, and book chapters and he has served as a reviewer for many journals, including JAMA, Journal of Infectious Disease, Clinical Infectious Disease, and the American Journal of Psychiatry. Most recently, Dr. Fallon and Dr. Jennifer Sotsky published “Conquering Lyme Disease: Science Bridges the Great Divide” (Columbia University Press).  

Conference Lecture Summary

This presentation will review the results of our recent U.S.- Denmark collaboration to determine whether in fact mental disorders and suicidal behaviors are increased after the diagnosis of Lyme disease. Although cases reports, small series, and office-based practice chart reviews have been published suggesting an association, these studies all had methodological limitations which left these questions unanswered. Using a nationwide sample of people living in Denmark between 1994 and 2016 (n=6,945,837) and data from the Danish registries of hospital-based diagnoses, we investigated whether the rates of mental disorders, affective disorders, suicide attempts, and suicide were each higher after a hospital diagnosis of Lyme borreliosis compared to the rest of the Danish population without a registered diagnosis of Lyme Borreliosis. We examined whether temporal proximity to the diagnosis and number of episodes increased the rates of these adverse mental health outcomes. The results and implications of the study results will be discussed.