Research increasingly tells us that depression and anxiety are not disorders in and of themselves, but rather symptoms of inflammation in the brain. Thinking about depression and anxiety in this way gives us new insight into their possible causes and how best to address them.
With that in mind, and especially if you are one for whom conventional treatment has proven ineffective, a less frequently cited yet potential reason you may not be getting better could be Lyme disease.
Lyme and other tick-borne diseases are becoming increasingly prevalent. While these diseases typically present with a wide range of symptoms, joint pain being the most common, they have also been associated with a wide range of psychiatric conditions including depression, anxiety disorders, panic attacks, and bipolar disease. The association of Lyme disease with neuropsychiatric disease has been documented since 1994 in the American Journal of Psychiatry and has been confirmed since, but the connection is frequently overlooked in the diagnosis of psychiatric illness. If you are suffering from chronic pain and depression, anxiety or another mental disorder, this diagnosis has to be considered.
Dr. Kaplan says physicians (inappropriately) are oriented to treat these conditions as diseases and not look for an underlying cause. For instance, he recalls one of his patients who had depression and sleep disturbances consistent with sleep drunkenness, but which later turned out to be Lyme disease. “Treatment of the Lyme resulted in complete resolution of symptoms.”
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