Lyme disease patients may 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.[1]

“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.

  1. Bransfield. Suicide and Lyme and associated diseases Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat Jun 16;13:1575-1587, 2017

66 Replies to "Lyme disease patients may struggle with depression"

  • Linda
    03/01/2024 (9:26 am)

    I was on IV for 6 months and it was hell. My question is; When receiving IV, neuro herx was still happening. Did that mean I should have stayed on IV for a longer time because my herxing was still killing Lyme? Zithro and flagel)

  • Sarah
    10/08/2022 (2:18 pm)

    Can an antidepressant work while you’re getting treatment for Lyme? (For Anxiety)

    • Dr. Daniel Cameron
      10/09/2022 (1:40 pm)

      I find the an antidepressant not as helpful for my Lyme disease as for patients who do not have Lyme disease. I still prescribed antidepressants with the antibiotics.

  • Tami D
    07/30/2021 (3:36 pm)

    My husband has been blatting with Lyme for almost 5 years now. He has tried antibiotics, herbal supplements, infusion treatments and currently is on a Antabuse drug called Disulfiram. Disulfiram has been the only thing that helped him so far, but still far from an actual healthy life. He suffers daily with headaches, joint pain, extreme fatigue, mental fogginess and depression. It has been very hard lately, as it seems like he will never get healthy again. He hasn’t been able to work for all those years and doing daily tasks around the house are extremely difficult for him. This has been taking a very heavy toll on him and his depression is getting worse. I am trying to get him to see a therapist, but he really does not want to. I don’t know what to do. I feel responsible for not doing more to help him, but I don’t know what else to do. Anyone here that has Lyme and has gone through something similar, please reach out if you have any tips on how I could help him. Thank you!

  • Tina
    07/23/2021 (10:11 am)

    I am on Paxil for clinical depression and other challenges. I have also been being treated for lyme since October of 2020. I began having painful symptoms for well over a year prior to October’s start of treatment. My challenge is that I seem to have too many side effects from treatment options such as herbs and supplements and wonder if the Paxil is contributing with it’s long list of side effects. Can you elaborate on the interactions if know with lyme treatments and anti depressants?

    • Dr. Daniel Cameron
      07/24/2021 (7:42 am)

      I have had Lyme disease patients who found Paxil helpful. You would need to address this question with your doctor. There may be another explanation.

      • Matina
        08/09/2021 (2:02 pm)

        Thank you for your reply in reference to the paxil. It encouraging to hear that Paxil use has been helpful to some of your Lyme patients. I have found Lyme treatment suprisingly complicated for myself due to the mood side effects from various treatments I have tried. Thus, I was curious if anyone else that was on Paxil before or during their Lyme treatment had needed to stop a treatment due to side effects and did they feel it was related to the Paxil-as Paxil is known for many herb and drug interactions.

      • Tina
        08/10/2021 (11:40 am)

        Recently I replied about the anti depressant. That is only a small concern with this disease. Having been nearly a year in what seems experiment treatment to me at times with my wellness clinic, I feel as though my Lyme is only worsening.
        I am wondering if I need to redo am there antibiotic round as my first and second ones were complicated due to side effects. Doxycycline caused severe worsening depression, the deferoxamine was oral and interrupted and restarted due to mast cell issues. The supplements she added in were oddly not very tolerable. Presently I am still dealing with chronic joint soreness and noticible mild joint swelling on the inner elbows, knees and ankles and recurring bursitis or tendonitis of one arm. As well my leg muscles are always and increasingly very stiff. Needless to say all of this added to the the sleep and increased depression issue make the latter worsened. Are these ongoing symptoms normal after treatments?
        Could you share any experience you have on positive outcome treatments for lyme disease patients and have had patients do better changing their diet and including naturopathic suggestions?

        • Dr. Daniel Cameron
          08/11/2021 (8:18 am)

          I have patients in my practice who have tried several approaches and are still ill. I have to carefully review their history to look for new treatment options. For example, I have sometimes had to take care of the depression, diet and tick borne illness at the same time.

    • Alma
      06/03/2022 (10:55 am)

      There’s a doctor that treats Lyme disease in selinsgrove PA he’s a chiropractor / naturalist I’m going through hell with getting rid of the Lyme disease but he’s getting rid of it for me his name is Dr Pronik

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