THIS IS YOUR BRAIN…ON LYME
by Lori Dennis, MA, RP
Reposed with Permission from:
Registered Psychotherapist, Author of Lyme Madness™ (Coming Soon)
The brain is a complicated organ––it is, in fact, the most complex structure within the human body.
With one hundred billion nerve cells and a million new connections formed every second of our lives, our brain––with its billions of neurons, synapses, grey matter, white matter, dendrites and axons––is the driving force behind our thoughts, memories, actions, feelings, experiences, habits and personalities.
Our genetic makeup influences the idiosyncratic workings of our brain. Our early life experiences––including our conditioning, messaging, relationships, quality of care and treatment, trauma, education, nutrition, exercise, environment––and other lifestyle factors are also major contributors to how our brain is shaped.
It is only in the last twenty-five years or so that a few leading edge psychiatrists have begun to actually look at the brain they treat, thanks to the advent of more specialized imaging. Primarily, however, psychiatry has been far more anecdotal in nature and is practiced according to the professional bible known as the DSM (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual)––which categorizes and describes a litany of mental illnesses, including anxiety and depression.
While talk therapy remains a viable and highly effective treatment modality for mental health patients including the ‘worried well’ population, in the past couple of decades due to the decline in insurance payouts, psychiatrists have turned away from practicing psychotherapy and have turned toward psychopharmacology instead. A direction that is not necessarily in everyone’s best interest.
One of the more recent and critical paradigm shifts in psychiatry and mental health that I am determined to bring awareness to is the new understanding that brain dysfunction and mental illness can be influenced by inflammation caused by infectious disease.
Enter chronic Lyme disease. Forty years after its first major outbreak in Lyme Connecticut, chronic Lyme disease is currently a pandemic, a disease that is affecting millions worldwide. It has been found in 80 countries around the globe. With a multitude of coinfections added to the mix, we are experiencing a loud wake up call in the field of mental health.
The wake up call to psychiatrists and all other mental health professionals is that infectious disease must be used as a differential diagnosis when treating patients. When patients present with intractable depression, intractable anxiety, and a myriad of other mental illnesses, they must consider that infectious disease can be a root cause. It’s no longer enough to only consider childhood trauma and genetic predisposition. And it’s no longer acceptable or appropriate to make a bee line to the prescription pad as the first line of defence. First, the potential underlying mechanisms of inflammation and infectious disease need to be more widely considered. If we look at Syphilis, a close cousin to Lyme, we know that depression, anxiety disorders and the like, are pervasive with these sufferers. The same is true for those who have Lyme and coinfections.
While Lyme disease often begins with flu-like symptoms, headaches, fatigue, swelling of the joints, muscle pain and gastrointestinal distress, as it progresses it can attack the brain and the nervous system, producing learning disabilities, mood swings, anxiety and depression, panic attacks, obsessive behavior, sudden rages and other psychiatric diagnoses. This is what we in the Lyme world refer to as chronic Lyme disease although many mainstream doctors prefer to call is Post Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome. When a Lyme sufferer gets to this stage of illness, it is a different beast altogether and one that is harder to treat and much harder to recover from.
Lyme disease is a post-sepsis, immunosuppressive illness which amongst other manifestations presents as a brain and nervous system injury affecting sufferers in a myriad of ways. This may include physical pressure resulting in headaches and migraine type symptoms, incessant brain fog, memory loss, impulsivity, anxiety, depression, rage, derealization, obsessive compulsive disorder, inattention, post-traumatic stress, and the list goes on.
Suicidal ideation and even suicides are not uncommon with Lyme disease. I clearly understand why. Chronic Lyme is the perfect storm. It’s a disease that matches up with so many reasons to want out including: a pervasive feeling of anxiety and depression; not being able to see a way out of the darkness; a feeling of complete isolation and helplessness; long-term suffering that wears you down; loss of income, identity, energy; feeling like a burden to loved ones; having to face a medical system that negates your suffering and offers little to no answers for recovery. For these reasons and more, it is so clear to me how and why chronic Lyme sufferers, in particular, so often succumb to this disease by their own hand.
In short, chronic Lyme disease causes a multitude of neurological problems, and when our brain isn’t working well, we are not working well.
So when doctors throw up their hands because they ‘don’t believe in Lyme’, when they shame you for even suggesting it, and when they insist that your symptoms are ‘all in your head’, tell them that they are in fact right. The symptoms are ‘all in your head’ and may be created by inflammation of the brain caused by infectious disease, bacteria, parasites, mold, mycotoxins or viruses.
Then hand them a copy of my book LYME MADNESS and tell them to start opening their eyes and their minds to what’s happening to millions worldwide.
Lyme Madness will be available on Amazon by the end of November 2016.
Also visit https://www.facebook.com/lymemadness/ for more posts and messages about chronic Lyme.