Lyme disease patients struggle with depression

There is growing evidence that Lyme disease can lead to psychiatric symptoms, including anxiety disorders and depression. There have been cases where chronically ill Lyme disease patients were suicidal. But, whether psychiatric manifestations, including suicidal ideation, are due to an infection or the result of struggling with a debilitating condition is unknown.

One study found that more than 1/3 of patients with chronic neurologic Lyme disease suffered from depression, in addition to fatigue, headaches, poor concentration, lightheadedness, and joint pain.

While depression is not uncommon in patients with chronic illness, it does seem to be more prevalent among patients with Lyme disease, according to Dr. Robert Bransfield, a New Jersey-based psychiatrist, who specializes in treating tick-borne disease infections.

“In my database, depression is the most common psychiatric syndrome associated with late stage Lyme dis­ease,” states Dr. Bransfield in his paper “Lyme Disease, Depression and Suicide.”

Individuals with Lyme disease may also find themselves subject to the same stigma described for depression. The reluctance of some clinicians to acknowledge the existence and severity of any thing more than an acute disease only fuels the stigma.

The national conversation on depression reminds us of the need to remove barriers for Lyme disease patients who are already feeling overwhelmed and stigmatized.


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Patrick
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Patrick

Beginning in 2004, I had very severe neuroborreliosis that went undiagnosed for a year. I wanted to die. I was wandering around like a zombie. I went to bed every day hoping I would never wake up. When I did wake up, I was overwhelmed with sadness and my eyes would fill with tears. I had a dream job but I couldn’t even enjoy it. Then the physician did a spinal tap and started me on 40 days of intravenous antibiotics. The arthritis went away, and the shooting pains and pins and needles lessened, but the fatigue and mental fog… Read more »

Jeff
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Jeff

Dr. Cameron, it is likely I had Lyme for 35, or so years before it was found. Do you believe long term Lyme can cause damage, or changes in brain chemistry? If so, what treatments or remedies would you suggest looking at? I figure my profound fatigue is part brain chemistry, and part mitochondria (every cell in my body feels overtaxed much of the time). I went through weeks of antibiotics last year, but it made no difference. Thanks for your advocacy!

B Better
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I was diagnosed with late stage lyme after 12 years of suffering. My general practitioner just told me he was informed that lyme wasn’t in our state! I live in Georgia. I am better, due to working with a lyme specialist and a neurologulist, that put me on 400 mg of CoQ10 and S.O.D.3, 3 times a day, as well as massive amounts of great probiotics. The coq10 and sod3 help rid the body of free radicals in the blood and has worked wonders. I still have issues, but it’s a good start. Depression for people with Lyme is real… Read more »

S Garner
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S Garner

I am in Georgia as well. Physicians don’t know how to treat it nor us. Now I am out of money and rarely working. My life has radically changed…

Elzanne
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Elzanne

I got Lyme disease in October of 2016. Successful disgnosed & treated after I worked & suffer for more than a week… i was pretty sick but it after several days of Doxy I was back up to speed. My problem is that I seem to have lost my ZEST. It could be cause I work a high stressed job & long hours but I’ve done this for many years. I am alot less approachable, easy to aggitate, easily worked up & always worried about something – get headaches now (have never been a sufferer) – I drink copious amounts… Read more »

Betty Gordon
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Betty Gordon

Dan, My late husband, Jack Gordon’s brain autopsy given to me 11.22.15 by Dr. Alan MacDonald said: Jack’s brain made WORLDWIDE HISTORY having 2 diseases never discovered together before: Borrelia/Lyme and LEWY body dementia causing visual/VIOLENT hallucinations like Robin Willams had. Because Jack is the 1st in world with these diagnosis, his case will be written up and published in an unknown SCIENTIFIC medical journal sometime in future!! I, non-medical person, will be 1st co-author over him, Paula Pierce from Norman, Okla. EXCALIBUR LAB did the 1st work on blood staining before Alan received the slides. Then Tom Grier was… Read more »

Sandra
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Can someone please help me? My precious daughter age 20 has late stage Lyme disease. She has been through IV antibiotics and seems to be better physically but mentally she deals with great depression, rage, and concentration. She is taking Abilify and Zoloft. She wants to end her life. She asks if she can please end her life. She spent all of her teen years ill. She can’t drive, go to school or work and is seeking street drugs to manage her depression. I just don’t know how to help her.

Dr. Daniel Cameron
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It can be difficult to get better. Keep working with her to find a solution.

Jenn
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Jenn

I have late-stage Lyme as well. Please don’t give up on her. Make sure she has a Lyme-literate doctor, not just a family practice physician. Not all docs have experience treating Lyme, and some aren’t up-to-date on the best treatments. A support group may also be helpful– it’s hard to say. If she’s unable to drive or work and is mostly confined to the house, she may need to get out for a bit, which can be so hard to do but makes a big difference for me. Time away from her normal environment with someone who understands can be… Read more »

Fran
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Fran

Hi Sandra, I feel for you and your daughter. I have Lyme disease and have been suffering from severe treatment resistant depression for 3 years. I understand how she feels when she asks please if she can just be permitted to die. I am a mother of 4 beautiful kids, have a kind supportive husband, but have lived in hell for the past three years. The Lyme has destroyed my brain and I can’t do most of what I used to be able to do. I still try with whatever energy I have left to stay alive for my children… Read more »

Anne
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Anne

My daughter was where your daughter is. She still suffers from anxiety but we’re slowly making strides. The one medication that worked wonders is clozapine. However, she does have to go for blood work every two weeks (weekly in the beginning ). You may want to look into that. Also, a mental health facility for a few weeks might help. It’s a place she can be safe from herself and can be heard. Check around and check your insurance. Prayers to you and your daughter.

ilana drucker
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ilana drucker

Do you have any facilities to recommend?

Trish
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Trish

May I ask how your daughter is doing?

Nancy
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Nancy

Can depression in patients with Lyme disease be diagnosed with ICD10 code F06.31 for mental health counseling?

Dr. Daniel Cameron
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The 2017 ICD-10-CM Diagnosis Code F06.31 has been introduced for “Mood disorder due to known physiological condition with depressive features.” Our office does not have any experience using the code, yet.

Dale Ann
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Dale Ann

I was diagnosed with Lyme disease about 3 weeks ago. I was prescibed amoxil for 10 days and I’m now taking doxycycline since I’m still symptomatic. As the days go on I am feeling better physically with fewer headaches, body aches and neck pain but I am noticing more and more depression, trouble concentrating and focusing. I was diagnosed at the ER since I don’t have a primary care Dr. Should I return to the ER for a follow up? Or can I anticipated these newer symptoms to subside as well?
Thanks!

brian
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brian

get a spinal tap to make sure its not in your nervous system