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Chronic Lyme Disease and Mental Health

Chronic Lyme disease can have severe and wide-ranging effects on mental health and also present with mental health symptoms such as anxiety, depression, mood swings, suicidal ideations, and insomnia.  Dr. Burger is an ILADS-trained Lyme-Literate physician and is involved in ongoing training through Dr. Neil Nathan, MD and Dr. Laurie Radovsky, MD.  

Chronic Lyme Disease and Co-Infections

Chronic Lyme disease infections are often complex, with patients frequently suffering from additional tick-borne co-infections. Multiple studies have confirmed that ticks can harbor various microbes, leading to co-infections in most chronic Lyme disease cases. Effective treatment must address these co-infections alongside Lyme disease itself.

Chronic Lyme disease can lead to a range of complications, including:

Chronic Inflammation and Imbalances

  • Adrenal gland imbalances

  • Thyroid dysfunction (hypothyroidism)

  • Autonomic nervous system dysregulation (unstable blood pressure, heat/cold intolerance, anxiety)

  • Food sensitivities (particularly gluten)

  • Multiple chemical sensitivities

  • Autoimmunity

  • Reactivation of viruses like Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)

Histamine Reactions

  • Mast cell activation syndrome, contributing to inflammatory symptoms

Neurological and Psychiatric Issues

The Lyme bacteria (Borrelia burgdorferi) and co-infections like Babesia and Bartonella have an affinity for the nervous system, leading to:

  • Brain fog

  • Cognitive dysfunction - memory and/or focus issues

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Irritability

  • Sleep disturbances

  • Severe symptoms like panic attacks, suicidal ideation, mood swings, and rage episodes

Mold Susceptibility

People with chronic Lyme disease are more susceptible to complications from mold exposure, as the symptoms of mold illness overlap significantly with those of chronic Lyme disease.  



  • Diagnosis is based on a careful clinical history and supplemental laboratory testing. 

  • Conventional CDC testing

    • Two tier testing which includes 

      • Tier 1: ELISA and then if positive uses... 

      • Tier 2: Western blot or another ELISA

    • 50% sensitivity - only detects Lyme 50% of the time

    • These labs are based on testing one strain of Lyme only (B. burgdorferi B31)

  • IGenex Immunoblot is superior to the Western blot because it includes a lot more strains of Lyme Borrelia and Tickborne Relapsing Fever Borrelia strains.  It is more sensitive and specific than other lab tests.

  • Many individuals with Lyme Borrelia also have co-infections which have different treatments than Lyme, which can be difficult to test for.  


  • An integrative approach is best.  Everybody is different and treatment needs to be individualized and also take into consideration additional treatment for GI symptoms, fatigue, mental health symptoms, inflammation, immune function, detoxification, candida, or mold burden.

  • We utilize a combination of pharmaceutical antibiotics and herbal antibiotic options to address chronic Lyme disease effectively.  By using this dual approach, we can target the Lyme bacteria from different angles, with intracellular antibiotics inhibiting their protein synthesis and extracellular antibiotics disrupting their cell wall integrity. Combining pharmaceutical and herbal antibiotic options provides a comprehensive strategy to combat the persistent and challenging nature of chronic Lyme disease infections.

Further Reading:

Psychiatric Lyme
Psychiatric Lyme
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