Lyme Disease May Up Risk For Mental Illness Suicidal Behavior
Patients with Lyme disease are at increased risk for any mental disorder, for affective disorders, and for suicidal behavior, new research suggests.
Results from a large population-based study show that the rate of depression was 42% higher among patients with Lyme disease than among persons who did not have a history of Lyme disease the rate of suicide was 75% higher, said lead author Brian A. Fallon, MD, professor of clinical psychiatry and director of the Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center, Columbia University, New York City.
“Lyme disease is more than a rash, and while most patients get better when the disease is caught early, when it’s not caught early or when it’s a more serious case, clinicians should be aware there may be psychiatric sequelae,” Fallon told Medscape Medical News.
The findings were July 28 in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
What Is Lyme Disease The History And Biology Of The Disease
In the United States it is believed, as Vanderhoof-Forscher point out, that Lyme disease was discovered in 1977 in the small town of Lyme, Connecticut hence then naming of the disease. A woman named Polly Murray living in Old Lyme, Connecticut found that she developed rashes, headaches and swollen joints and later, she also suffered memory loss, nausea, shooting pains throughout her body along with intense fatigue. She went to major medical centers in New York and Boston but was told consistently that her illness was psychogenic.
As family members and neighbors developed the same or worse symptoms, she was more committed than ever to uncover the true cause of this strange complex of symptoms. Finally she called the Connecticut Department of Health. Her persistence eventually led to researchers Mast and Burrows to identify successful treatment of patients with antibiotics bitten by ticks as reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The first actual recorded case of Lyme disease or condition associated with it, according to Vanderhoof-Forscher was not in America, but in Germany in 1883 .
Vanderhoof Forscher also tells us in 1945 researchers in Europe had published research papers in reference to very similar if not identical symptomology to that of the disease we later identified as Lyme .
Here are some fascinating, but nightmarish facets being studied now: based on my study of the research on Lyme disease, it appears that
Lyme Disease Heightens Risk Of Mental Disorders Suicidality
A Columbia-led study advises physicians and patients be aware of psychiatric symptoms, particularly the first year after diagnosis
In a new study, U.S. and Danish researchers report that patients who received a hospital diagnosis of Lyme diseaseinpatient, outpatient, or at the ERhad a 28 percent higher rate of mental disorders and were twice as likely to have attempted suicide post-infection, compared to individuals without the diagnosis.
The study, a collaboration of Columbia University and the Copenhagen Research Centre for Mental Health, is believed to be the first large, population-based study examining the relationship between Lyme disease and psychiatric outcomes.
The research appears in the July 28 online edition of the American Journal of Psychiatry.
It is time to move beyond thinking of Lyme disease as a simple illness that only causes a rash, said Brian Fallon, MD, MPH, a psychiatrist with the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University who is the lead author of the paper. In addition to the risk of severe cardiac, rheumatologic, and neurologic problems, Lyme disease can cause severe mental health problems as well.
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Vitamin D Enhances Mitochondrial Function
Mitochondria, the tiny energy factories inside your cells that make fuel for nearly every part of your body, can be harmed by Lyme infection.
Lyme disease-induced mitochondrial dysfunction may provoke various health challenges, including chronic fatigue and mood disorders.
Conversely, certain nutrients can help restore healthy mitochondrial function. Vitamin D is one of them!
Research indicates that improving vitamin D status in adults can improve mitochondrial function. Optimizing your vitamin D status is critical to get your energy factories back online.
Lyme’s Effect On The Brain
When Lyme disease affects the brain, it is frequently referred to as Lyme neuroborreliosis or Lyme encephalopathy. Neuroborreliosis is an infection within the brain that can mimic virtually any type of encephalopathy or psychiatric disorder and is often compared to neurosyphilis. Both are caused by spirochetes, are multi-systemic and can affect a patient neurologically, producing cognitive dysfunction and organic psychiatric illness .
The causative agent of Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, is a highly neurotropic organism that not only can produce neurologic disease, but also can exist dormant within the central nervous system for long periodseven months or years. It is an evolved pathogen that uses several strategies to survive in both human and animal hosts, including using a screw-like mechanism that allows the bacteria to embed in the cells membrane.
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Controversy: Split Over Treatment For Persistent Symptoms
Medical groups continue to disagree about the optimal approach if a patients symptoms persist after the initial antibiotic treatment. A recent Lyme disease overview summarizes the differing guidelines .
- When patients have persistent or recurrent symptoms following recommended antibiotic treatment but no evidence of reinfection, further treatment is not recommended .
- While other potential causes for persistent symptoms should be investigated first, additional antibiotics are recommended if a chronic Lyme infection is believed to be a possible cause for ongoing symptoms and the patient has an impaired quality of life .
Lyme Disease And Mental Health
Ah! The joys of summer sun, vacation, bike riding, swimming, and hiking. All good things for our mental health. Generally. The thing is that lots of animals love this time of year, including ticks.
And where there are ticks, there is Lyme Disease. The black-legged tick is the only organism that can transmit Borrelia burgdorferi between animals or between animals and humans. Carried by a range of hosts, the black-legged tick is about the size of a poppy seed. If it is infected with Borrelia burgdorferi, its bite can have profound health implications. Small tick big bite.
What is Lyme Disease? With more than 300,000 cases diagnosed each year, Lyme Disease is the most common tick-borne illness in the United States. Caused by the bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, the early signs and symptoms of Lyme Disease include fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and swollen lymph nodes. People often think they have the flu. One of the best indicators that the problem is Lyme Disease is the distinctive rash that is caused by the tick bite. Sometimes the rash looks like a bulls eye but most of the time, the rash is simply a red circle. Left untreated, or in its chronic state, Lyme Disease includes symptoms of fatigue, restless sleep, aching joints or muscles, pain or swelling in joints, decreased short-term memory or ability to concentrate, and speech problems.
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How Is Lyme Disease Transmitted
While we refer to these infections as tick-borne infections, it is important to note that congenital transmission from mother to fetus has been well-documented. Further complicating diagnosis, LB may have a latency period of many years before symptoms of late infection develop, often after a triggering event such as a physical stressor such as a car accident, head trauma or emotional stressor such as grief. For more information on LB see our previous blogs .
What Is Lyme Disease
Before understanding how Lyme disease can impact mental health, its important to have an understanding of the disease itself, such as what causes Lyme disease and its common symptoms. As of now, the medical consensus is that one must be bitten by a tick that is infected by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, which is the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, to become infected with Lyme disease.
Lyme disease can manifest itself in those infected in varying ways. The symptoms of the disease include rashes, facial palsy, headaches, breathing difficulty, and neurological problems such as memory problems. While some individuals experience these symptoms for short periods of time, others may experience these symptoms chronically, even after treatments have been completed.
Lyme disease has also been shown to have an impact on the mental health of many of those affected by the ailment. While it has been difficult for medical professionals, scientists, and researchers to pinpoint how and why Lyme disease affects mental health, new findings are beginning to shed some insight on the topic.
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Keeping Safe From Tick Bites
Most people enjoy spending time in the great outdoors its so beneficial for our physical and mental well-being. However, ticks of all sorts are part of our natural world. Despite the havoc they can wreak on human health, believe it or not, they actually serve an important ecological purpose. Birds, lizards, frogs, and other critters eat them, while ticks feed on and spread diseases that kill sick or weakened animals to help control their populations.
Since eliminating ticks from the environment isnt viable, keeping yourself safe from them is the best course of action. In order to do this its important to understand and avoid potential tick habitatsor if you are venturing into them for a hike or trip to the beachits critical to know and follow your state or local guidelines for the prevention of tick-borne illnesses.
If you think you may have gotten Lyme disease, it can be very helpful to schedule an appointment with a functional medicine physician who is Lyme-literate and well-versed in the best treatments that can lead to optimal recovery from the infection and its symptoms. Similarly, if youre struggling with cognitive or mental health issues that arent responding to treatment, it may be time to investigate if infection like Lyme disease may be contributing to your symptoms.
The Need For A Different Perspective On Mental Health Illness
Historically, mental illnesses have been categorized based upon symptoms and syndromes since 1952 by the American Psychiatric Association in Diagnostic and Statistical Manuals . This categorization has taken the focus away from the cause of mental illness and therefore away from any chance of restoring an individual to health through curative, root cause treatments. When 1 in 5 American adults and 1 in 12 American children are on psychiatric medications, and when impulsive erratic behavior such as school shootings are happening on a weekly basis, we must shift our focus in medicine toward improved screening and testing, improved treatments, and holistic approaches that address the whole persons health: mind, body, and spirit.
Bransfield, Robert C. Neuropsychiatric Lyme Borreliosis: An Overview with a Focus on a Specialty Psychiatrists Clinical Practice. Healthcare vol. 6,3 : E104.
Cross, Amy et al. Case Report: PANDAS and Persistent Lyme Disease With Neuropsychiatric Symptoms: Treatment, Resolution, and Recovery. Frontiers in psychiatry vol. 12 : 505941.
Hündersen, Finja et al. Neuropsychiatric and Psychological Symptoms in Patients with Lyme Disease: A Study of 252 Patients. Healthcare vol. 9,6 : 733.
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How Can I Manage Weight Changes Due To Lyme Disease
The rapid weight loss or weight gain associated with Lyme disease can be challenging to manage. In many instances, your weight will stabilize once the infection has gone completely.
In the meantime, supporting your overall health with nutritious food may be beneficial. Lyme disease is a systemic, inflammatory condition. For that reason, an anti-inflammatory diet may be especially helpful for managing weight and overall health.
Once you stop taking antibiotics, you may also wish to add probiotics that support gut health to your daily intake.
If youre experiencing stubborn weight gain, try to increase your physical activity. This may be challenging if youre dealing with joint pain and fatigue. Once Lyme disease is behind you, you may find it easier to exercise.
While not specific to weight management, make sure to get enough sleep. Fatigue can lead to overeating.
Getting the help you need to manage your emotions is also important. Managing depression and anxiety will help you make good health decisions and reduce the desire to overeat or undereat. Meditation, yoga, and speaking with a mental health professional may also help.
Some strategies to manage changes in your weight may also help prevent dramatic changes.
- Eat a nutritious diet that contains anti-inflammatory foods.
- Exercise and add physical activity to your daily routine.
- Get enough sleep.
- Support your mental health with calming activities.
What Should You Do
If you or your child has a history of unexplained medical and mental health symptoms or havent gotten better with traditional therapies and psychotherapy, consider that infectious disease might be the source of your mental health issue. It is important to note that infectious disease takes many forms and that one may have a single illness, but it is more likely that one is affected by more than one infection, including strep, virus, other bacteria or environmental contaminants such as mold.
The first step is to find a Lyme-literate medical or mental health professional for proper diagnosis and treatment. The best way to do that is to seek a referral from a trusted friend or from Lyme organizations at the regional or national level, such as ILADS, your state Lyme organization or PANDAS.org. As many a patient who has taken this path can attest, you waste your time and may cause further damage to your health by going to an untrained professional.
©Roseann-Capanna-Hodge, LLC 2019
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Aspirin Can Lower Risk Of Heart Disease In Some Diabetic Patients
More than 65 percent of total mortality from diabetes is due to cardiovascular disease, including fatal atherothrombotic events such as acute myocardial infarction , ischemic stroke , critical ischemia of lower limbs, and sudden heart failure.
Compared to individuals with a normal concentration of blood glucose, the presence of diabetes is known to confer a two to four times higher risk of vascular complications that may be partly due to the prothrombotic milieu observed in patients with diabetes.
A growing number of studies have confirmed that diabetes causes heart disease and that people with diabetes are more likely to suffer from heart disease than healthy individuals.
Over time, patients with diabetes will suffer damage to their heart and nerves due to their high blood sugar factor. People with diabetes are also more likely to have other diseases that increase the risk of heart disease. If a person with diabetes also has high blood pressure, the risk of heart disease is greatly increased. Excess LDL cholesterol in the blood of diabetics can form plaque in their damaged artery walls, eventually leading to atherosclerosis.
In 2021, Dr. Vikram Thakur, of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, stated: Diabetes is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Short-term exposure to high blood sugar will directly affect the normal function of heart cells.
What Are Some Of The Mental Health Conditions Associated With Lyme Disease
Common psychiatric findings associated with LB include paranoia, dementia, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, panic attacks, major depression, anorexia nervosa, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. A staggering 80% of children with psychiatric illness referred to a child psychiatrist demonstrated evidence of exposure to one or more of the pathogens B. burgdorferi, Bartonella, Babesia, Ehrlich and Anaplasma on serologic testing.
Other psychiatric and neurologic symptoms include:
- Irritability or mood swings
- Alcohol intolerance
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Effects On Taste And Smell
Lyme disease may affect the cranial nerves in the back of your brain. These help with sensations such as smell and taste. The effects of Lyme disease on these nerves may cause:
- heightened sensitivity to smell
2019 ILADS report notes that weight gain is a possible symptom of untreated chronic Lyme disease. Untreated could mean a delayed diagnosis.
The aches, pains, and swollen joints commonly associated with Lyme disease may make it hard for you to remain active. Less exercise and physical activity may result in weight gain for some people.
Weight gain may also result from changes in appetite, shifts in mood, and depression.
The antibiotics you use to treat Lyme disease may also play a role. Antibiotics affect gut health by changing the collection of microbes in your gut. This may alter how your GI system breaks down food and absorbs calories, leading to weight gain.
Vitamin D Is Crucial For Restorative Sleep
Research shows that vitamin D deficiency can cause poor sleep quality. For example, vitamin D deficiency is associated with shorter sleep duration and nighttime waking in children and adults.
Vitamin D appears to influence sleep partly by regulating brain regions involved in the circadian sleep-wake cycle.
Restorative sleep, in turn, profoundly influences your immune function and inflammation levels. Without healthy sleep, Lyme disease recovery may be very challenging to achieve. Optimizing your vitamin D level may be one step towards improving your sleep and facilitating your Lyme recovery.
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What Causes Neuropsychiatric Symptoms In Lyme Disease
In tick-borne infections, it is believed damage to the nervous system can occur in three ways leading to neuropsychiatric symptoms. In the vascular form, tissue death in the brain can take place. In addition, infection with Borrelia within the central nervous system can lead to atrophy and encephalitis of the brain. The third type of damage happens outside of the central nervous system and causes an inflammatory response that affects the central nervous system.
Like many systemic symptoms associated with Lyme disease, neuropsychiatric symptoms can be caused by the immune response sparking inflammation.
The persistent immune response even after the pathogen has been eliminated includes inflammatory cytokines and autoimmune processes. Lyme bacteria has been shown to trigger antibodies to neuronal tissue leading to neurodegeneration.
Metabolic changes can also be induced by Lyme infections. The mitochondria in the central nervous system can become damaged from oxidative stress associated with tick-borne infections. Mitochondrial dysfunction leads to cognitive issues and fatigue. Inflammatory cytokines also cause an increase in quinolinic acid, a metabolite that contributes to neurotoxicity. People infected with Lyme borreliosis have increased levels of quinolinic acid in their central nervous system contributing to depression and poor cognition.