Lyme disease is implicated in many neuro-psychiatric disorders

In a study by BA Fallon and JA Nields of the Department of Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York up to 40% of patients with Lyme disease were found to develop neurologic involvement of either the peripheral or central nervous system. Problems with the central nervous system can occur within the first few weeks after skin infection. Lyme disease may have a latency period of months to years before symptoms of late infection emerge. Early sig ns include cranial neuritis, and radiculoneuropathies. A broad range of psychiatric reactions have been associated with Lyme disease including paranoia, dementia, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, panic attacks, major depression, anorexia nervosa, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Depressive states among patients with late Lyme disease are fairly common, ranging across studies from 26% to 66%. Lyme disease can be relapsing and remitting and why it can be refractory to normal immune surveillance and standard antibiotic regimens.

In a published study (Hajek et al, Am J Psychiatry 2002;159:297-301), one-third of psychiatric inpatients showed signs of an infection with the Lyme spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi. It has been found that that even severe neuropsychiatric behavioral symptoms in this population can often be reversed or ameliorated when a multi-system treatment program targeting Lyme disease is used.

Symptoms of chronic Lyme disease

Patients with late-stage Lyme disease may present with a variety of neurological and psychiatric problems, ranging from mild to severe. These include:

  1. Memory impairment or loss (“brain fog”)
  2. Dyslexia and word-finding problems
  3. Visual/spatial processing impairment (trouble finding things, getting lost)
  4. Slowed processing of information
  5. Psychosis
  6. Seizures
  7. Violent behavior, irritability
  8. Rage attacks/impulse dyscontrol
  9. Anxiety
  10. Depression
  11. Panic attacks
  12. Rapid mood swings that may mimic bipolarity (mania/depression)
  13. Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  14. Sleep Disorders
  15. Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  16. (ADD/ADHD)-like syndrome
  17. Autism-like syndrome

Symptoms of late stage Lyme disease

Some of the common symptoms of late-stage Lyme disease and other tick-borne co-infections:

  • Excessive fatigue
  • Chills, sweats and skin flushes
  • Night sweats
  • Migrating joint pain
  • Muscle pains/ muscle twitching
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Severe headaches
  • Shifting neurological pains
  • Tremors, shakiness
  • Numbness, tingling sensations and pain often shifting and unusual in type
  • Cranial nerve disturbance (Facial numbness, pain, tingling, paralysis, optic neuritis, trouble swallowing, distortion of smell or taste)
  • Losses in fields of attention/executive functions such as inability to maintain divided or sustained attention and memory
  • Impaired memory functions (lost items, missed appointments, retold stories)
  • Language difficulties (halting speech, disrupted participation in conversation)
  • Impaired visual/spatial Processing (Inability to find things, tendency to get lost, disorganization, difficulty reading, especially for enjoyment)
  • Impaired abstract reasoning (Poor problem-solving/ decision-making)
  • Slowed processing speed (Familiar tasks take longer, can’t follow conversations well).