Neurological Pain, Psychological Symptoms, and Diagnostic Struggles among Patients with Tick-Borne Diseases
1School of Economic, Political & Policy Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, TX 75080, USA
2Laboratory for Human Neurobiology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02118, USA
3Center for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA 22030, USA
*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Raphael B. Stricker
Healthcare 2022, 10(7), 1178; https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare10071178
Received: 3 June 2022 / Revised: 20 June 2022 / Accepted: 21 June 2022 / Published: 23 June 2022
(This article belongs to the Section Preventive Medicine)
Public health reports contain limited information regarding the psychological and neurological symptoms of tick-borne diseases (TBDs). Employing a mixed-method approach, this analysis triangulates three sources of symptomology and provides a comparison of official public health information, case reports, medical literature, and the self-reported symptoms of patients with Lyme disease and other TBDs.
Out of the fifteen neuropsychiatric symptoms reported in the medical literature for common TBDs, headaches and fatigue and/or malaise are the only two symptoms fully recognized by public health officials. Of TBDs, Lyme disease is the least recognized by public health officials for presenting with neuropsychiatric symptoms; only headaches and fatigue are recognized as overlapping symptoms of Lyme disease. Comparisons from a patient symptoms survey indicate that self-reports of TBDs and the associated symptoms align with medical and case reports. Anxiety, depression, panic attacks, hallucinations, delusions, and pain—ranging from headaches to neck stiffness and arthritis—are common among patients who report a TBD diagnosis. Given the multitude of non-specific patient symptoms, and the number and range of neuropsychiatric presentations that do not align with public health guidance, this study indicates the need for a revised approach to TBD diagnosis and for improved communication from official public health sources regarding the wide range of associated symptoms.