Archive for the ‘Psychological Aspects’ Category

The Link Between My Lyme Disease and Mental Health

The Link Between My Lyme Disease and Mental Health


Credit: Slide from Dr. Jane Marks’s lecture to American Psychiatric Association NY Branch, Lenox Hill Hospital, November 12, 2016

Roughly 11 years ago, I walked out of my room and turned off the light switch. Instead of walking down the stairs, I turned back around and touched every pillow on my bed five times. This happened every day for the next few months. Touching objects repeatedly is a recognizable trait of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and so naturally, after being taken to the doctor, I was diagnosed with OCD. Doctors encouraged therapy, and they believed it would adequately manage the condition. And it did. That is, until it reappeared in other forms.  (Go to link for article)



This patient speaks of mental fatigue, depression, OCD, and stabbing pain, common symptoms of Lyme/MSIDS.

The really good news is after only 1 month of Lyme treatment, 80% of her psychiatric symptoms were gone.  GONE.

For more:

Please see this excellent presentation by Dr. Jane Marke:


(If you are only interested in psychiatric symptoms, scroll to around minute 28)


Dr. Jane Marke:  Mental Illness or Lyme Disease?

Lecture to American Psychiatric Association NY Branch, Lenox Hill Hospital, November 12, 2016

Lyme (Borreliosis) 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, but are not limited to:

  • insomnia
  • anxiety
  • “brain fog”
  • obsessive-compulsive symptoms
  • depersonalization
  • depression
  • 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. It’s 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.

Visit Jane Marke here:

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See more video’s and information about Lyme Disease here on Lyme Channel: and here on Facebook:

Lyme disease is one of the fastest spreading infectious diseases in the world.
Lyme disease is almost twice as common as breast cancer and six times more common than HIV/AIDS!

Signs and Symptoms of Lyme Disease

signs and symptoms of lyme disease

The broad range of signs and symptoms of Lyme disease and the varying presentations from person to person make diagnosing the disease challenging. Furthermore, Borrelia burgdorferi spirochete are adept at evading the immune system. The bacterium can travel through the bloodstream, burrow into tissue and remain dormant for days, months, or even years before symptoms arise.

While many people associate Lyme disease with manifestations such as Bell’s palsy, the circular Bull’s-eye rash, and flu-like symptoms, Lyme disease can also cause sensory, cognitive, neurologic, and cardiac complications, even in its earliest stage. But, the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease are all too frequently attributed to another medical condition.

Objective signs of Lyme disease include Bell’s palsy, synovitis of the knee, and the presence of a Bull’s-eye or erythema migrans rash. However, most people exhibit a wide range of signs and symptoms of Lyme disease that may come and go and fluctuate in their intensity.

Initially, Bell’s palsy, also known as idiopathic facial nerve palsy, may not be attributed to Lyme disease. But making the connection early is important, since corticosteroids, a common treatment for facial nerve palsy, can be harmful to patients with Lyme disease.

Furthermore, researchers in the UK remind clinicians to consider Lyme disease in children who present with Bell’s palsy. “In areas endemic with Lyme disease, Lyme disease should be considered as the likely cause of facial nerve palsy in children until proven otherwise.”

Wide range of signs and symptoms of Lyme disease

Studies indicate that at least 50% of patients with Lyme disease do not exhibit the classic Bull’s-eye rash. When a rash is present, it can appear anywhere on the body. It does not always appear at the site of the tick bite. The rash usually appears between 3 – 30 days after the tick bite.

A rash due to Lyme disease is typically not itchy or painful. It may fade and then reappear and it can be confused with a spider bite. Atypical rashes can also occur. And when multiple rashes appear on the body, it may be an indication that the Borrelia burgdorferi spirochete has disseminated beyond the tick bite and the disease is in a more advanced stage.

If left untreated, the infection can spread to other parts of the body, including the brain and central nervous system, cardiovascular system, peripheral and autonomic nervous system, along with the muscles and joints, and eyes.

Neurologic and cardiac manifestations

Lyme disease can cause neurological and cardiac symptoms such as meningitis, encephalitis, and carditis. But, more often symptoms include severe and unrelenting fatigue, joint pain (with or without swelling), sore muscles, neck and back pain, headaches, light, sound and temperature sensitivity, sleep disturbance, night sweats, irritability, anxiety, despair, sadness, lightheadedness, crying, poor memory and concentration, stiff neck, numbness, and tingling sensations.

Although rare, Lyme carditis can cause sudden death. The authors of a case series warn, “These two cases highlight the importance of early recognition. And treatment, even if it’s empirical, may save lives.”

Another researcher reports, “The burden of Lyme disease and Lyme carditis in U.S. children’s hospitals has increased in recent years.” The authors identified 189 children diagnosed with Lyme carditis between 2007 and 2013.

LymeMIND Replay  See video here

Watch Facebook replay of Oct. 10 LymeMIND conference

Could Lyme Disease in Children Lead to Parental Flooding?


lyme disease in children

I have found that in my practice, Lyme disease in children can cause emotional, educational, and social issues, oftentimes with debilitating consequences. Some of the parents have felt overwhelmed by their child’s illness. Could there be parental flooding during conflicts with a child who has Lyme disease?

Parents experiencing flooding “are overwhelmed by the intensity and aversive nature of child negative affect,” writes Del Vecchio and colleagues in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology.1

When this occurs, parents “may be less likely to react effectively and instead may focus on escaping the aversive situation, disciplining either overly permissively or punitively to escape quickly from child negative affect.”

Lyme disease in children can trigger behavioral changes, including extreme mood swings, explosive anger, and aggressiveness.2 Managing these symptoms can be exhausting for parents and overwhelming. In such cases, parental flooding may likely occur.

The authors created the Parent Flooding Scale (PFS) to assess “the extent to which parents believe their children’s negative affect during parent-child conflicts is unexpected, overwhelming, and distressing.” Such a scale may be helpful to therapists working with parents and children who have Lyme disease.

READ MORE: When Lyme disease in children causes oppositional behavior

Flooding does not refer to a particular emotional experience (i.e., sadness or anger), but rather the degree to which another person’s emotion is experienced as overpowering and interfering, explains Del Vecchio.

When flooded, the sympathetic nervous system is heightened and the parental reaction is “thought to overwhelm rational deliberation, making it difficult to attend to the situation and engage in calm, organized behaviors.

Parents may employ an “escape-conditioning model,” the authors explain. “To the extent that some parents are overwhelmed by the intensity and aversive nature of these emotional experiences, they may consequently employ a discipline response, often either overly permissive or punitive, that offers the quickest escape from child negative affect.”

Editor’s note:

For the purposes of transparency, I am not a trained psychiatrist or psychologist. I am using this paper on flooding to better understand my patients. I would find research in this area helpful.

  1. Del Vecchio T, Lorber MF, Slep AM, Malik J, Heyman RE, Foran HM. Parental Flooding During Conflict: A Psychometric Evaluation of a New Scale. J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2016;44(8):1587-1597.
  2. Bransfield RC. Aggressiveness, violence, homicidality, homicide, and Lyme disease. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2018;14:693-713.
We definitely struggled with this and our kids weren’t even infected, but we sure were.  We seemed much less capable of remaining calm and logical in stressful situations – particularly with children who were just acting like children.  It didn’t help to be our sickest when they were all in puberty!
It was better when one of us was “with it,” but absolutely horrible when we were both affected.  The worse we felt, the worse we acted.
I agree with Dr. Cameron – we need more information on these important topics.
Lyme is over 40 years old and we have so little to show for it. Doctors are still uneducated and patients are still commonly being misdiagnosed. Patients are still misunderstood and being told, “It’s all in your head.”

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