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Lyme Disease And Mental Illness

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How Do You Treat The Mental Health Aspect Of Potential Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease and Bipolar, OCD, Schizophrenia, other Mental Illness

I’ve had some form of something for the last 10 years following a tick bite, tested negative, and now I’m pursuing Buhners Protocol.

I think depression and anxiety are a possible symptom, or maybe a side effect, or both, of having something going on. In other words, the possible lyme infection could be causing the anxiety and depression, or having the other symptoms like post-exertional malaise could be causing the mental problems. Idk.

So does anyone else feel like their symptoms, the uncertainty of tests, the lack of trust from doctors, friends, family, ect. makes them feel ungrounded and disconnected from reality?

Is there any form of therapy or medication that has helped you guys?

I have tried about 6 different medications for anxiety/depression, and I’ve seen a few therapists. Not sure if I find that stuff helpful, but maybe I have found the right one?

Unraveling The Mystery Of Lyme Disease

Vol. 53 No. 4

Monitor on Psychology53

Long before the SARS-CoV-2 virus was linked to a syndrome we now call long COVID, researchers and clinicians were already debating over how to best assist patients experiencing lingering symptoms from Lyme disease. For reasons that are unclear, 10% to 20% of people who contract Lyme disease report ongoing or intermittent symptoms at least a year after completing antibiotic treatment, including fatigue, muscle aches, difficulties with memory, irritability, and other symptoms, according to a review of the research .

For patients, these ongoing and sometimes debilitating symptoms can erode their quality of life, potentially leading to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. But over the past few decades, researchers have also determined that the tick-borne infection itself, along with related inflammatory and other physiological effects, may directly cause mental health disorders.

One recent study, conducted by researchers from the Columbia University Irving Medical Center and the Copenhagen Research Centre for Mental Health, found that patients who received a hospital diagnosis of Lyme disease had a 28% higher rate of mental disorders and were twice as likely to have attempted suicide postinfection than individuals without a Lyme diagnosis .

Lyme Is Not The Only Threat

As mentioned earlier in this article, there is another group of borrelia that causes a disease that is similar to, but biologically distinct from, Lyme. This disease, called Tick-Borne Relapsing Fever or TBRF, is often characterized by fevers that wax and wane every few days. However, many patients never experience relapsing fevers or any fevers at all. Like those of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases, TBRF symptoms can often go undetected or be mistaken for other conditions, which can give the disease time to develop into neurological symptoms.

So, as with Lyme, it is crucial to get an early and accurate diagnosis of TBRF. Be aware that TBRF will not show up on a Lyme test the test must be designed to test for TBRF borrelia in order to show accurate results. If symptoms are Lyme-like but test results are negative, doctors should consider the possibility of TBRF.

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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.

Lyme Disease Is Causing A Mental Health Crisis: Heres What To Do

Lyme Loonies, Part 2: When Mental Illness Is Physical Illness

byKerry Heckmanon May 10, 2019

Note: This post discusses self-harm and suicide. If you feel suicidal or a danger to yourself or others, PLEASE call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273 TALK ,or text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line. You can also call 911, or go to your nearest hospital emergency room. YOU ARE NOT IN THIS FIGHT ALONE.

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month and Mental Health Awareness month. These matters are inextricably linked because there is now a mental health crisis among those with tick-borne diseases. As Dr. Robert C. Bransfield writes, Lyme and other tick-borne diseases contributes to causing a significant number of previously unexplained suicides and is associated with immune-mediated and metabolic changes resulting in psychiatric and other symptoms.

If youve been in this circle for even a short while, you most likely have heard about a fellow Lyme warrior who died by suicide. You may have even known the person or have once called them your friend. Sadly, it happens far too often.

Statistically, those with any chronic illness are more likely to die by their own hand than those the general population, but for those with Lyme and other tick-borne diseases the risk is even greater. The reason for this is complex, but here are three important factors to consider:

1. Living with Lyme disease is hard.

3. Lyme disease bacteria can infect the brain.

How To Tell if You Are in a Mental Health Crisis:

1. Self-harming behaviors.

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Introducing Lyme And Eating Disorders

There are quite a few reviews in the medical literature documenting the neuropsychiatric conditions associated with Lyme disease, and most of them include the general category of eating disorders. But when I searched the medical database for case histories, I could find only one, published in 1992.

Andrew Pachner and colleagues described a twelve-year-old boy who initially presented with right knee swelling, and tested positive for Lyme disease. He was treated with doxycycline for thirty days and his knee was better. However, two months later he became depressed and restricted his food intake, compulsively exercised, and lost 31 pounds.

He still tested positive for Lyme disease and was treated with intravenous penicillin for two weeks, and soon thereafter he was no longer depressed, he ate normally, and gained weight.

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.

Recommended Reading: Dr Rawls Protocol For Lyme

Clinicians And Patients Should Be Aware Of Risk

But findings of the study, the researchers said, are emblematic of a trend in Lyme disease cases that should not be overlooked. The Danish medical registry includes only psychiatric diagnosis made in a hospital setting not by clinicians in communities and it is likely that the number of individuals with new onset mental health problems following infection is much higher.

This nationwide study confirms the association between Lyme disease and psychiatric disorders, Dr. Benros said. Treating clinicians and patients should be aware of an increased risk of mental health problems, particularly during the first year after a severe Lyme disease infection, and if mental health issues arise, patients should seek treatment and guidance. “

The study, Lyme Borreliosis and Associations with Mental Disorders and Suicidal Behavior: A Nationwide Danish Cohort Study, was funded by the Global Lyme Alliance, Inc.

Carla Cantor

Why And How Lyme Disease And Tbrf Affect Mental Health

Lyme disease and mental disorders: Conversation with Dr. Brian Fallon

Lyme disease and TBRF can wreak havoc on a patients mental health in the following ways:

  • Direct effects As with syphilis, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease and TBRF can invade the central nervous system and cause neurological and psychiatric symptoms that are organic in origin. This is what doctors call neurological Lyme disease or Lyme neuroborreliosis.
  • Indirect effects The discomforts and challenges of living with and/or being treated for Lyme disease or TBRF can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions that are not necessarily caused by the bacteria, but are indirectly caused or exacerbated .

Of course, these effects are not either/or, but rather can coexist and compound one another. Learn more about each below.

Read Also: How Did Ticks Get Lyme Disease

How Do You Get Lyme Disease

The blacklegged tick which can be found throughout the eastern half of the country and the Western blacklegged tick along the Pacific coast are carriers of the bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, which causes Lyme disease. They tend to hang out in leaf debris on the ground, in wooded areas, and on the tops of tall grasses where they can easily latch onto your skin or clothing as you pass byor hitch a ride on your dog. Once they find a potential host, ticks gravitate to the warm moist areas of the body and, unbeknownst to you, can burrow into your skin to feed on your blood.

People often dont know that theyve been bitten, either because they dont notice or feel the tickones in the nymph stage are the size of poppy seedsor there is no tell-tale bullseye left behind. Nonetheless, if the tick is a carrier of the bacteria, it will infect you within 36-48 hours. Then, in as few as 3 days or as many as 30 or more, flu-like symptoms, along with a rash or swollen lymph nodes will start to develop, and eventually so can problems such as these:

  • Facial palsy
  • Racing heart or irregular heartbeat
  • Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, thereby affecting the central nervous system

Lyme And Psychiatric Symptoms

  • Lyme and Psychiatric Symptoms

Lyme has become a very common illness every state in the country has areas infested with ticks. Patients dealing with Lyme suffer neuro-psychiatric complications that are related directly to the illness, as well as to the emotional challenges and lack of support which often accompanies this difficult illness. Many doctors are convinced that after a short course of antibiotics patients should be well. The huge number of people still ill years after a course of antibiotics belie this assertion.

Patients with Lyme, and related tick-borne disease, can have symptoms which mimic every known psychiatric syndrome. Treatment aimed directly at symptoms can relieve suffering rather quickly. These symptoms include insomnia, anxiety, brain fog, obsessive-compulsive symptoms, depersonalization, depression, and rages. But antibiotics are needed to undermine the root cause of the illness: the bacteria that causes Lyme: Borrelia burgdorferi.

Lyme is so common, that at this point in time, a large percentage of my patients have the illness. Almost everybody knows someone with this illness. Its something we always have to keep in mind.

If you have Lyme, you deserve excellent treatment, no matter how briefly or how long you have been ill.

You deserve a Lyme-literate physician.

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A Lyme Disease Diagnosis

Lyme disease, also formally known as Lyme borreliosis, is a disease caused by a bacteria humans may contract if theyre bitten by black-legged ticks found on deer. In the U.S., approximately 476,000 people are diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease on a yearly basis, which may be an overestimate based on presumptive diagnosis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The condition manifests itself in many ways and therefore can be difficult to diagnose, especially at the beginning stages. Typical symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Rash

Lyme disease in most people is a mild illness accompanied by an expanding rash,” lead study author Brian Fallon, MD, director of the Center for Neuroinflammatory Disorders and Biobehavioral Medicine, tells Verywell. “When detected and treated with antibiotics early, most people do not develop other problems.”

There can be, however, some complications.

However, when the agent of Lyme disease disseminates through the body, it may lead to painful syndromes such as meningitis or radiculitis or arthritis, Fallon, who is also the director of the Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center at Columbia University, says. “Or it may lead to cardiac conduction problems or cardiac muscle inflammation.

Francis, for example, says she was lucky enough to receive an early diagnosis. But thats not always the case.

Lyme Disease And Mental Disorders: Its Not All In Your Head

Managing Your Mental Health

byMayla Hsu, Ph.D.on July 29, 2021

New Study Analyzes Patient Data

Mental disorders are among the most poorly understood symptoms of Lyme disease. Early on, it was recognized that Lyme disease in late stages includes neurologic symptoms like chronic pain and cognitive dysfunction. Psychiatric illnesses associated with Lyme disease, like depression, bipolar disorder, and suicide, have also been documented. However, these studies have had limitations, such as lacking proper control groups as comparisons, small study size, and short-term follow-up. These shortcomings may explain why mental illness, particularly the mood disorders, have not been broadly accepted as outcomes of Lyme disease. A perception persists that affected individuals are only a small proportion of Lyme disease patients.

Lyme Disease and Mental Health

They found that Lyme patients had elevated risk of any mental disorder and affective disorders, by calculating incident risk ratio the ratio of risk for Lyme-diagnosed people compared to those without Lyme. Using fully-adjusted data, the researchers found that a Lyme disease diagnosis overall increased the risk of any mental disorder by 28% compared to those without Lyme disease.

Suicide and Lyme Disease
Borrelia Infection and Psychiatric Disorders
Lyme Disease and Mental Disorders Merits Greater Study

Also Check: Bitten By A Tick Lyme Disease

Research On Lyme Disease And Mental Health

Since the early 1990s, research has demonstrated a clear link between psychiatric conditions and Lyme disease, and continues to signify a connection. In 2002, Tomá Hájek, MD and colleagues found that 33 percent of screened psychiatric patients showed signs of an infection with the Lyme spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi. Many mental health issues have been linked to tick-borne bacteria, including: depression, mood lability, bipolar disorder, irritability, anxiety, panic attacks, obsessive compulsive disorder, attention and executive functioning problems, memory issues, word finding difficulties and even psychosis.

A 2018 study by Shreya Doshi, MA and colleagues found that in patients with post-treatment Lyme symptoms, they had depression symptoms 8 to 45 percent of the time, and suicidal ideation was reported by 19.8 percent of these patients. In 2017, Dr. Rosalie Greenbergs study found that 89 percent of participants diagnosed with Pediatric Bipolar Disorder tested positive to one or more pathogens, including tick-borne Babesia, Bartonella and Lyme, as well as Mycoplasma pneumoniae.

Even with many research studies over decades that demonstrate a causal link between infectious disease and mental health, the average person sees between five and seven doctors before a diagnosis of Lyme disease.

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 .

Recommended Reading: Where Do I Get Tested For Lyme Disease

Chronic Lyme And Mental Health

The CDC lists having a chronic disease as a risk factor for developing mental illness. This underscores the reality that even for patients who do not develop neurological Lyme disease, the experience of Lyme disease alone can cause or exacerbate mental health problems like depression, anxiety, and others listed above.

Getting diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease can be stressful and exhausting, especially the longer this process takes which, for many, can be several years. Patients often must deal with conflicting or inaccurate diagnoses, lack of support from health care professionals, and exorbitant medical bills, all while battling physically and mentally debilitating symptoms with no end in sight. This experience can lead to a drastic reduction in quality of life that creates the perfect conditions for mental illness.

Lyme Disease Increases Risk Of Mental Disorders Suicidality

Jane Marke, MD: Tick-borne disease, Lyme, and Psychiatric Illness

Researchers from Columbia University and the Copenhagen Research Centre for Mental Health found that patients hospitalized with Lyme disease had 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, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry

For the study, the researchers analyzed the medical record diagnoses of nearly 7 million people living in Denmark over a 22-year period, comparing the mental health data of individuals after a hospital-based diagnosis of Lyme disease to the rest of the Danish population who had never had a Lyme diagnosis recorded in the national medical register. Patients who had a history of mental disorder or suicidality prior to the Lyme disease diagnosis were excluded from the analysis.

The analysis revealed that in addition to patients with Lyme disease being at greater risk of mental disorders and suicide attempts, they also had a 42 percent higher rate of affective disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder, and a 75 percent higher rate of death by suicide than those without the diagnosis. Additionally, having more than one episode of Lyme disease was associated with a higher rate of mental disorders, affective disorders, and suicide attempts.

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