Do Bartonella Infections Cause Agitation, Panic Disorder, and Treatment-Resistant Depression?
In the last 15 years, 9 Bartonella bacteria have been identified that are known to infect humans: B henselae, B elizabethae, B grahamii, B vinsonii subsp. arupensis, B vinsonii subsp. berkhoffii, B grahamii, B washoensis, and, more recently, B koehlerae and B rochalimae.[16–20] Currently, the largest national laboratories offer tests for only 2 species[21–23] (B quintana and B henselae).
Some Bartonella cases have “atypical” presentations with signs or symptoms lasting more than weeks, causing diverse medical problems. For example, Bartonella can cause vision abnormalities, prolonged fever, joint pain, lung inflammation, respiratory disease, and granulomas throughout the body. It can occasionally cause abdominal pain, liver and spleen tissue abnormalities, thrombocytopenic purpura, bone infection, papules or pustules, maculopapular rashes, arthritis, abscesses,[20, 24–30] heart tissue and heart valve problems,[31–37] and neurologic illnesses.[38–42]
Traditionally, cognitive neurology has been related to some psychiatric illnesses. A search of PubMed with “Bartonella” and the search words “depression,” “mania,” “bipolar,” “major depression,” “depression,” “anxiety,” “panic,” “panic attack,” “psychosis,” and “schizophrenia” yielded the limited journal results below:
- Violent behavior
- Combative behavior
We note that the number of Bartonella species that infect humans currently outpaces the number of Bartonella species that can be tested by top national labs. Some antibiotics seem to have an effect, but dosing and duration are not clearly established or indicated by a broad literature review. Further, clinical improvement and the cessation of symptoms do not always signify complete eradication. That is, it may be possible for a patient to relapse due to a significant medical stress to the body or a decrease in immune system capacity. Of greatest importance, we believe that Bartonella can enter the brain and cause not only well-documented neurologic disorders, but also some psychiatric disorders as well.