Psychological Lyme Disease symptoms are sadly common, and can have two different bases: emotional distress and actual damage due to neuroborreliosis.
The former can lead to despair and depression, often fed by the disturbing true stories of those who’ve faced difficult courses of treatment, as outlined in Part I of this article. In this installment, we’ll take a look at the personality changes sometimes associated with Lyme cases that advance to neuroborreliosis.
A Depressing Reality
You may be aware that Lyme Disease has reached epidemic proportions in recent years. While it’s hard to say exactly why, evidence points toward two culprits, as outlined in Part I.
First of all, greater acceptance and recognition of the disease on the part of doctors and medical researchers has likely played a huge role in ripping the mask off this “Great Pretender” disease. Second, an increase in deer populations in the U.S. is exposing more and more people to the ticks that carry Lyme.
A Surprising Statistic
Did you know that in Europe, psychiatric in-patients are twice as likely to test positive for Lyme Disease as the general public? Other studies have also revealed severe personality disorders that may be associated with the illness.
We already know that Lyme Disease infections that invade the central nervous system, becoming neuroborreliosis, can cause learning disabilities, mood swings, sudden rage, obsessive behavior, and other organic neurological affects not attributable to emotional disturbances.
On a lesser but still damaging scale, lack of impulse control, loss of concentration, forgetfulness, and an inability to process information are also common side effects of neuroborreliosis infections. Microedemas, tiny swellings in the brain tissue, may cause some of these problems.
All that’s frightening enough… but there’s also evidence that the damage caused by neuroborreliosis can lead to other mental ailments that the influential psychiatric sourcebook, the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual, defines as discrete conditions, including bipolar (manic depressive) disorder and schizophrenia.
Researchers are also beginning to suspect that neuroborreliosis may be the root cause of many other psychiatric illnesses, from Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to obsessive compulsive disorder to an extreme sensitivity to sound or light.
And as we’ve outlined in other articles on this site, a number of researchers have even implicated Lyme in various forms of degenerative neurological diseases and dementia, including Lou Gehrig’s Disease, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s Disease.
None of the evidence for these claims is conclusive at the moment, but it’s certainly compelling.
Recognizing Lyme’s Effects
Changes in personality that we know to be associated with Lyme can result in everything from minor financial troubles to family dysfunction, increased levels of marital strife, and domestic violence. So we recommend that you be very wary of, and very responsive to, any personality changes you observe if you have Lyme.
Even if you don’t have a Lyme diagnosis, but have never had a history of these psychological problems before, you should have yourself tested for Lyme Disease by a sympathetic doctor—especially if you live in an area where the disease is endemic. Don’t take chances!
The testing is worth the cost and effort, especially if you experience other telltale symptoms: fatigue, muscle and joint pain, headache, fever, and especially the bull’s-eye rash. If nothing else, you can eliminate Lyme Disease symptoms as a possibility, and start working toward a more accurate diagnosis.