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May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month Blog Post #19: Mental Health & Lyme Disease

It makes sense that when you have a chronic illness you might have some feelings of sadness, hopelessness and loneliness.  Even feeling angry that you are constantly sick or grieving for the life you once had.  Yes, anyone who is constantly sick day after day gets worn down and feels lost that their suffering may never end.

But would if you had a disease that could actually cause mental health problems?  

mood swings

I’ve read that 95% of all Lyme Disease sufferers have mental health problems.  But unfortunately most are misdiagnosed as having a psychiatric disorder instead.  Some people are even put in a psych ward or on many different medications for a period of time because the psychiatric doctors don’t understand that sometimes there is an underlying illness that can cause those symptoms.  Just think if all psychiatric professionals considered Lyme Disease as a cause and sent patients to a Lyme Literate MD there would be so much less suffering.  So many people spend years and years on psychiatric medications and never get better.   But psychiatrists continue to push medications, hospitalization and electroconvulsive therapy to patients when they don’t get better.  WAKE UP PEOPLE!  If you continue to take meditations for a condition a doctor says you have and they don’t work then maybe you don’t have that condition.  Maybe if you got to the cause of the problem and treated that you would heal.

Here is a great article by Sarah Marzillier: What Psychologists need to know about Lyme disease from 2009

And a brochure from the International Lyme and Associated Disease Society (ilads)

Remember Lyme Disease can mimic over 300 illnesses.  When a patient presents with depression, anxiety, bipolar or even schizophrenia you need to ask about other symptoms and get a medical history. 

  • Does the patient have any physical symptoms?
    • pain or aches in their body
    • migraines
    • heart problems
    • tremors or seizures 
  • Does the patient have memory problems?
  • Does the patient have many joint problems, like arthritis?
  • Does the patient have sleep problems or fatigue?

I started feeling depressed about the same time I started getting frequent migraines.  The doctors had no answers for migraines so right away they sent me to a psychiatrist.  It’s very common for migraineur’s to get depression because we spend a lot of time in a dark room and don’t get much sunshine.  However, over the 19 years I was wrongly diagnosed with bipolar and given medication for it.  Of course, the medication made me worse and I eventually when off all of it because I didn’t need it.  Psychiatrists feel they must label your actions as some psychiatric disorder.  They can’t separate a common occurrence of a person crying and being angry about something without labelling it.  My last visit to a psychiatrist was the worst.  I was in excruciating and debilitating pain (I was not able to walk without pain meds) and was extremely upset that no doctors were helping me.  So because I was angry and crying and told her how horrible several doctors had treated me she assumed I needed a mood stabilizer.  Unbelievable!  Yes, I had a few choice words for her and never went back.  Patients should not be treated so poorly by physicians.  And Psychiatrists are the worst!  They think everyone needs medications.  They are prescription happy!  It’s maddening!!  And when you get side effects from a drug they give you another to add to it to mask the side effects.  IT MAKES NO SENSE AT ALL!  They give depressed patients drugs that have suicide tendencies as a side effect.   Please read all you drug inserts and check for side effects and if you are not comfortable with any doctor and how they treat you find someone new.


Why does Lyme Disease and it’s co-infections cause psychiatric disorders?

Here could be some of the reasons:

  • The infections can effect your central nervous system
  • The bacterial infection of a spirochete can make it’s way into your brain
  • Lyme patients are severely toxic 
  • Possible side effects from treatments or medications
  • A possible herxheimer reation

Our medical community can’t continue to ignore this.  At some point every doctor including psychiatrists need to be educated in Lyme Disease.  Because right now, most psychiatrists do not believe that mental health problems can be cased by Lyme Disease.  

For all doctors:  It is NOT “all in our head”

There are many stories of people who were only assumed to have a mental illness when they actually had Lyme Disease.  Here is the story about Ally Hilfiger, daughter of Fashion Designer Tommy Hilfiger.  He committed her to a psych ward and luckily a doctor there was able to determine she had Lyme Disease.  

Ally Hilfiger On How Being Institutionalized By Her Father Saved Her Life



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