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Lyme Disease and Depression

0 3 years ago

It’s a line many Lyme patients have heard from family, friends, co-workers, and even physicians. Particularly for those struggling with undiagnosed Lyme disease, this suggestion is a popular “answer” when patients don’t otherwise fit into an easy diagnostic box. When I was first wrestling with symptoms of tick-borne illness at age 19, a nurse at my college health center said, “Maybe you should see someone in counselling about all of this” when she tired of my frequent visits for hypoglycemia, fatigue, headaches and fevers. At such an impressionable age, I worried she was right.

In some ways, she was. Seeing a counsellor might have helped me work through the complex emotions of being sick, not having a diagnosis, and not being able to keep up with my peers academically or socially. Later, when I was being properly treated for Lyme disease, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, possible bartonella, and chronic active Epstein-Barr virus, a therapist was an important part of my support system.

But seeing a therapist wouldn’t have solved my physical ailments, because depression was an effect of them, not the cause. Anyone who suffers from a long-term illness, who wakes up day after day feeling like they never slept, who can’t get out of bed, is bound to get depressed. For some people, chemical depression is indeed the diagnosis that causes both mental and physiological symptoms. For Lyme disease patients, however, depression is a symptom of that tick-borne infection.


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