Long-Term Stress May Trigger Herpes Outbreaks
WebMD News Archive
Examples of short-term stressors reported included flying on an airplane,
being a victim of vandalism, and breaking a leg. Examples of long-term
stressors included being worried about relatives, job security, or
Researchers discovered that the more persistent stress reported, the greater
the likelihood of a herpes outbreak the following week. Also, an increased
recurrence rate occurred after participants experienced their highest levels of
anxiety the previous month. "There were no significant associations between
recurrence and short-term stress, life events, depressive mood, anger, or phase
of menstrual cycle," says Cohen. "Persistent stressors and highest
level of anxiety [caused] genital herpes recurrence, whereas transient mood
states, short-term stressors, and life-changing events did not."
Why weren't men included in the study? "Because we believed that men and
women might differ in how they experienced or reported negative moods and
stressors, and could show different relations between stressors and recurrence,
we limited our study to women," writes Cohen.
According to her, "Women with herpes can be reassured that short-term
stressful life experiences and dysphoric mood states do not put them at risk
for increased outbreaks of recurrent genital herpes." She recommends that
women with genital herpes who face persistent stress be referred to counseling
in conjunction with receiving medication designed to suppress lesions.
According to the CDC, in the U.S., 45 million people aged 12 and older, or
one out of five of the total adolescent and adult population, is infected with
genital herpes. It is more common in women (25%) than in men (20%).