“Doctor, I can’t go on like this. I would rather be dead than
live a lifetime with this anxiety and depression, feeling as terrible
as I do. Everyone tells me I am crazy – they look at me as though
I had two heads, when I describe my symptoms. They want to give me antidepressants,
anti-anxiety medicines. They want to put me in the hospital on suicide
watch. I’m not suicidal. But I don’t want to go on living
These are almost the exact words of a patient whom I saw recently –
a patient who had been perfectly healthy until… something happened,
and she was not the same afterwards.
The thing that happened might be a hike in the woods and a tick bite. It
might be a hike in the woods and the summer flu without noticing a tick
bite. It might be exposure to a chemical spill at work. It might be an
acute infection. It might be breast implants. It might be an infection
in a surgical wound.
Whatever the precipitating cause, there appears to be an overload of the
immune system against a toxin, with persistence of symptoms in many different
organ systems. And unless someone thinks to do a valid Lyme test, the
existence of the disease may never be discovered.
The scientific community uses the principle of Ockham’s Razor to
determine the likelihood of a given explanation for a given set of facts.
That principle, attributed to a 14th century Franciscan monk named William of Ockham, states: “multiple
factors are not to be invoked unless necessary”.
Necessity, of course, is dependent upon one’s own philosophical view
of the world. In the world of allopathic medicine, if we can’t see
it, it does not exist. Lyme disease is something that is an acute infection,
easily treatable with a few days of antibiotics. If there are persistent
symptoms after antibiotics, this is certainly not because the organism
has not been adequately treated. Certainly, the patient has developed
an autoimmune disease, or a psychiatric illness, or is simply depressed,
or a hypochondriac.
As Albert Einstein wrote in his
Autobiographical Notes, after publishing the paper on Brownian motion which confirmed the reality
of molecules, "The antipathy of these scholars toward atomic theory can indubitably be
traced back to their positivistic philosophical attitude. This is an interesting
example of the fact that even scholars of audacious spirit and fine instinct
can be obstructed in the interpretation of facts by philosophical prejudices." One example of such prejudicial thinking can be read in an article
published in the official publication of the IDSA, discussing the “marketing”
of “unorthodox therapies”. Emotionality in presumably scientific publications does cause one to wonder
about the objectivity of the information in the publication.
From one perspective, it is much easier to think of Lyme disease –
infection caused by the spirochete
Borrelia burgdorferi and several of its friends – as a simple bacterial infection, easily
treatable with a few days worth of antibiotics. However, our allopathic
colleagues seem to be oblivious to the fact that another spirochete –
Treponema pallidum, the causative agent of syphilis – infects our bodies in three distinct
phases, may infect every organ of the body, is extremely difficult to
treat once it has passed the acute stage of the chancre, and can cause
severe neuropsychiatric illness due to its presence in the brain.
It’s not such a great leap to think that if the causative organism
of syphilis can do it, a similar organism causative of Lyme disease can
also behave in a similar way.
Let us look at the peer-reviewed literature on the subject of Lyme disease
and “mental illness”.
A multitude of articles assert that Lyme disease (and co-infections) is
a cause of cognitive impairment and dementia. Treatment-resistant depression is another manifestation. Borrelia burgdorferi causes the body to produce anti-neuronal antibodies,
presumably because part of the organism’s protein coat has similar
composition to proteins in our nerve cells. In addition, the organism
elicits multiple compounds which produce inflammation in the system.
One recent article declares: “The very presence of the [borrelia]
organisms in the brains following supposedly effect treatment for Lyme
disease in contradictory and should be the starting point for diagnosis
Another recent article reports the relationship between suicide and Lyme
and associated diseases.
Inflammation appears to be a common denominator of Lyme-associated psychiatric illness.
Remember that ticks can carry a multitude of infectious organisms which
do not appear to harm the tick in the slightest, but which can be deadly
to humans. An excellent history of the discovery of Lyme disease and its
co-infections can be found on Dr. Daniel Cameron’s website.
If there is such a strong correlation between inflammation and Lyme disease
and neuro-psychiatric illness, does it not seem reasonable to at least
look for a connection to Lyme disease in anyone who suddenly develops
neuro-psychiatric illness? We can drug the patients, or we can look for
a potentially treatable condition such as Lyme disease. To me, looking
for potentially treatable conditions does not fall into the category of
unorthodox alternative therapies marketed to a gullible public.
Looking for potentially treatable conditions is good medicine. It is one
of the tasks assigned to those who are in the healing professions –
whatever their licensure.
 Lantos, Paul M., et al. "Unorthodox alternative therapies marketed
to treat Lyme disease."
Clinical Infectious Diseases 60.12 (2015): 1776-1782.
 Almeida, O. P., and N. T. Lautenschlager. "Dementia associated with
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 Asadipooya K, Dehghanian A, Omrani GR, Abbasi F. Short-course treatment
in neurobrucellosis: A study in Iran. Neurol India 2011;59:101-3.
 Bransfield, Robert C. "Suppl 1: The Psychoimmunology of Lyme/Tick-Borne
Diseases and its Association with Neuropsychiatric Symptoms."
The open neurology journal 6 (2012): 88.
 Allen, Herbert B., et al. "Lyme disease: Beyond erythema migrans."
J Clin Exp Dermatol Res 7 (2016): 330.
 Bransfield, Robert C. "Suicide and Lyme and associated diseases."
Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment 13 (2017): 1575.
 Bransfield, Robert C. "Relationship of Inflammation and Autoimmunity
to Psychiatric Sequelae in Lyme Disease."
Psychiatric Annals 42.9 (2012): 337-341.