When you think of Lyme Disease, you might picture its most well-known symptoms, like the bulls-eye rash, fever, joint pain, and fatigue. But Lyme can actually have many other symptoms, including psychological ones, especially if it becomes chronic. The psychological symptoms of Lyme, like its other symptoms, vary from patient to patient, but there are several recurring patterns.
People with Lyme, especially chronic Lyme, often deal with gaslighting from doctors who say the root of their symptoms is psychological. When they do experience psychological issues, some use this as further "proof" that anxiety or depression is causing their symptoms. However, Lyme, like may illnesses, often works the other way around: It's the physical health issues that cause the psychological ones.
"Mental health is moving in a direction where we know that we can't separate our physical health from our mental health," Ruschelle Khanna, LCSW, a psychotherapist who specializes in counseling people with Lyme Disease and operates her practice part-time out of the NYC medical coworking space LINA, tells Bustle. "Chronic infections are a root of many psychological problems. There's research that infections can cause schizophrenia. There's plenty of evidence that physical problems can impact our mental health."
Kristin Reihman, MD, family medicine doctor and author of Life After Lyme, agrees. "New onset of psychiatric symptoms in a previously well person is a really good reason to start looking for tick-borne disease," she tells Bustle. Reihman believes these symptoms may stem from an autoimmune response in which antibodies created to fight Lyme and co-infections go after healthy brain tissue.
Here are some psychological symptoms that may be signs of Lyme and are common to find in people suffering from it, according to experts.