Psychological stress as a trigger for herpes zoster: might the conventional wisdom be wrong?

Clin Infect Dis. 2015 Mar 1;60(5):781-5. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciu889. Epub 2014 Nov 10.


The causes for zoster remain largely unknown. Psychological stress is one commonly considered risk factor. We used self-controlled case series methods to look for increases in zoster following death or catastrophic health event occurring in a previously healthy spouse. We found no increase, although this stressor led to increased mental health visits.

Keywords: healthcare seeking; self-controlled case series; shingles; stress; zoster.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Herpes Zoster / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Spouses
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*