350 – LD, Depression & Suicide

Lyme, Depression, and Suicide

By Robert C. Bransfield, MD

In the late 1970’s, I treated a depressed patient who appeared to have more than just depression. Her weight increased from 120 to 360 pounds, she was suicidal, had papille­dema, arthritis, cognitive impairments, and anxiety. This patient became disabled, went bankrupt, and had marital problems. Like many whose symptoms could not be explained, she was re­ferred to a psychiatrist. However, I was never comfortable labeling her condition as just an­other depression. At the time, I did not consider her illness could be connected to other diagnostic entities, such as neuroborreliosis, erythema migrans disease, erythema chronicum migrans, Bannwoth’s syndrome, Garin-Bujadoux syndrome, Montauk knee, or an ar­thritis outbreak in Connecticut With time, the connec­tion between Borrelia burgdorferi infections and men­tal illnesses such as depression became increasingly


In my database, depression is the most common psychiatric syndrome associated with late stage Lyme dis­ease. Although depression is common in any chronic illness, it is more preva­lent with Lyme patients than in most other chronic illnesses. There appears to be multiple causes, including a num­ber of psychological and physical fac­tors.

From a psychological standpoint, many Lyme patients are psychologically overwhelmed by the large multitude of symptoms associated with this disease. Most medical conditions primarily affect only one part of the body, or only one organ system. As a result, patients singularly afflicted can do activities which allow them to take a vacation from their dis­ease. In contrast, multi-system diseases such as Lyme, depression, chronic Lyme disease can penetrate into multiple as­pects of a person’s life. It is difficult to escape for periodic recovery. In many cases, this results in a vi­cious cycle of disappointment, grief; chronic stress, and demoralization.

It should be noted that depression is not only caused by psychological factors. Physical dysfunction can directly cause depression. Endo­crine disorders such as hypothyroidism, which cause depression, are sometimes associated with Lyme disease and further strengthen the link be­tween Lyme disease and depression.

Read more:  http://www.mentalhealthandillness.com/Articles/LymeDepressionAndSuicide.htm

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