Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by a spirochete bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi (B. burgdorferi). It is often referred to as the “The Great Imitator” because its symptoms mimic many other diseases.
One way Lyme is masked is through the presentation of psychological symptoms. The psychological symptoms of Lyme Disease can be devastating so it is important to be aware of the psychological symptoms that can present themselves in both adults and children.
The Psychological Symptoms Associated With Lyme Disease
- Lack of Focus
- Easily Distracted
- Inability to sit still
- Behavioral outbursts
- Sudden changes in mood
- Social Isolation
- Memory Loss
- Chronic Pain
Psychological Diagnoses In Adults With Lyme Disease
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Major Depressive Disorder
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia
- Panic Disorder Without Agoraphobia
- Bipolar Disorder
- Impulse Control Disorder
Psychological Disorder in Children With Lyme Disease
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Sensory Procession Disorder
- Generalized Anxiety
- Major Depression
- Oppositional Defiant Disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Social Anxiety
- Autism Spectrum Disorders (looks similar to this)
Other Psychological/Neuropsychological Difficulties
- Memory Loss (Getting lost, short term memory, and working memory)
- Attention Difficulties
- Slow visual and auditory processing
- Visual-spatial difficulties (trouble finding things)
- Auditory processing disorders
- Visual processing disorders
- Word finding and word generation
- Decline in executive planning abilities
At Dr. Cynthia Edwards-Hawver and Associates, we truly understand Lyme Disease and have can help you manage your symptoms and find a way to help you get your life back. Dr. Cynthia Edwards-Hawver, Psy.D. and Tracy DiMattia, LSW both suffer from chronic Lyme Disease so we understand this horrible disease both personally and professionally.
Who Is At Risk?
The only current place in the world that has not been found to have Lyme Disease is Antarctica. The highest incidences are reported in the Northeast Regions of the United States. Children are at very high risk because they spend so much time outside and playing on the ground, in leaves, grass, and the woods. Our furry pets are at high risk as well except we now have a vaccine for dogs and more protection available for them than we do for humans.
How Do You Get It?
Most studies suggest that people contract Lyme Disease by being bitten by an infected tick. Recent research has suggested that there are various other ways to contract Lyme Disease, however, due to the limited scientific studies; it is difficult to know for sure. Depending on which area you live in, the tic can vary in type, size, and shape. The most difficult to detect one is Nymph Ticks (which are the size of a poppy seed).
Some studies show that Lyme Spirochetes have been found in human breast milk, tears, urine, and semen. Other studies report that Lyme Disease can be transmitted to babies in the womb. Moreover, live spirochetes have been found in mosquitoes, mites, fleas, and biting flies.
It is believed that a tick has to be present on the skin for 24 to 48 hours to transmit the infection. There are several studies that state Borrelia burgdorferi can transmit as soon as it attaches to the body. Contrary to popular belief, most people with Lyme disease have no memory of a tick bite and a large percentage of people do not get the “tell tale bulls-eye rash.”
The only way to know if a tick is carrying the infection is to have it tested, which can be almost impossible to do with a nymph tick. And it can take weeks for results of the tick to come back, so taking medication while waiting is very important.
How Common Is Lyme Disease?
The current rates of Lyme Disease cases are inaccurate. The CDC guidelines are outdated and do not reflect the true nature of how prevalent Lyme Disease has become. The CDC also does not believe in Chronic Lyme Disease (Post Lyme Disease Syndrome), which is why no many people continue to suffer for years without proper diagnosis or treatment. Most people are not aware that Lyme Disease is not more common than developing many forms of cancers and HIV. More people are getting sick each year with Lyme Disease, yet the research, training, and treatment that is much needed is not happening.
How Do I Treat It?
*I am a psychologist and not a physician, but I will share with you what I have found in my extensive research
*Please try and find a Lyme Literate Physician if you have been bitten by a tick because they understand the complexity of this disease
Most people find antibiotics to be helpful in being able to function, however, when a person has long-term (chronic) Lyme Disease, it is very difficult for antibiotics to work because Lyme Spirochetes are smart: they change form, they hide inside the body, and they rearrange their gene structure. And without getting too technical, Lyme Spirochetes can reach all parts of the body, including the brain and heart. Antibiotic treatment can still help with the symptoms of Chronic Lyme Disease and often give people the much needed relief they need to function.
The best time to treat Lyme is once you find a tic attached to your body. I am not a physician, but I always share with people that if you get bit by a tick, I would insist on asking your physician to prescribe 400 mg of Doxycycline for 30 days and for children I would insist on at least 200 mg of Amoxicillin (twice daily) for children. Even if you don’t get find a tick, if you develop any of these sudden symptoms, you may have been bitten by a tick and did not find it:
- Flu Symptoms (chills, sweats, fever, sore throat)
- Muscle Aches and Pain
- Joint Pain
- Heart Palpitations
- Facial Paralysis
- Blurred Vision
This level of treatment with antibiotics may seem excessive, but the only time you can truly kill Lyme Disease is in the first days of being bit and your best bet is to begin taking the antibiotics as soon as you find a tick attached to your body. Many (non-Lyme literate or aware) physicians will tell you to wait and see if you develop a rash, come down with symptoms, and/or wait for the testing of the tick to come back. However, it is my opinion that by that time, the disease has already spread through your body. Always take a high dose probiotic 2 hours before or 2 hours after taking the antibiotic. If you take it with your antibiotics it is not effective and it can make you sick.
If you are completely against antibiotics then a natural remedy to try is Astragalus Root. If you do not have Chronic Lyme, I actually recommend taking Astragalus Root daily all throughout tick season to prevent yourself from becoming infected. Again, check with your physician to make sure that it is safe for you to take, but it has been shown to decrease the development of Lyme Disease when being bit by an infected tick.
Do Your Research and Become The CEO of Your Own Health Care!
Please click on the other Lyme Disease Links where I share my journey with Lyme Disease.