Severe depression, paranoia, delusions, hallucinations and even brief psychotic episodes are just a few of the troubling psychological symptoms patients have visited Christine Hammond with over the course of her 12 years as a mental health counselor.

For some of these patients, the cause of their seemingly textbook mental issues isn't from an abnormality of brain chemistry or function, but from Lyme disease

About 30,000 cases of the disease are recorded annually by the CDC. Up to 475,000 people may be affected by the Borrelia burgdorferibacteria each year.

Blood-feeding arthropods like mosquitoes, ticks and fleas spread diseases like West Nile virus. Blacklegged ticks and deer ticks are the primary carriers of the lyme.

Although the disease usually consists of skin rash, fatigue, headaches, and a few other symptoms, some patients develop a wide range of physical and psychological symptoms that cause chronic impairment of normal functioning.

Misdiagnosing Chronic Symptoms

Doctors either misdiagnose these clusters of chronic symptoms or dismiss the patient as psychosomatic for people who don't know a tick bit them. The man has seen both of them.

There isn't a lot of information out there about how the illness affects people from a mental or psychological standpoint I think it's important for the mental health community to pay attention to issues which appear to be psychological, but really, they're medical.

Some patients were already diagnosed with the disease, but others were misdiagnosed. One was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and the other with Alzheimer's disease and began receiving treatment.

It can take up to a year or two to officially reverse those diagnoses.

A patient who dealt with anxiety, depression and brain fog was the subject of an article written by the author. The doctor could not make a conclusive diagnosis and labeled the patient a psychosomatic person.

Sometimes dismissing patients can make their mental symptoms worse. Desperate and tragic outcomes can result from the frustration of not being accepted or treated properly.

Several of my clients were suicidal and tried to kill themselves because they were not taken seriously for their illness.

Daniel Cameron is a New York-based medical doctor who runs a private practice specializing in diagnosis and treatment of tick-based illnesses.

It's not uncommon for a doctor to diagnose someone with chronic fatigue or lyme disease even if they are not sick.

A doctor will usually check for a number of things when testing a patient for the disease. If there is no clear case of disease, the test for common tick-based illnesses can be done.

Many doctors don't want to continue treatment past the short term use of antibiotics.

They're reluctant to overshoot the odds if you don't get better in a couple of weeks. There needs to be more flexibility in the way that doctors look at someone with a disease.

Potential Progress

When she began seeing patients, she was surprised to see that they had similar symptoms to those in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Although she lacks the medical training and knowledge of a medical doctor, she frequently encourages her patients to seek additional neurological testing, especially if their symptoms are not dissipating with medication.

Many people have done that and found that they had something else. Even though their physical symptoms did not improve, their mental issues did.

When we don't take our clients seriously and believe them, and look for other solutions that are outside of the box, we do a disservice.

Thanks to the COVID-19 Pandemic, that might be changing. There is a growing number of patients with what is known as "long Covid."

Like chronic Lyme sufferers, these patients are reporting different clusters of symptoms for weeks, months or over a year after their infections disappear.

Severe and recurring depression is one of the symptoms that people have had with the disease.

It is hoped that this will lead to more doctors and counselors giving help and support to patients who need it the most.

She says that mental health practitioners have a responsibility when they have a patient that comes in to see them to take them seriously. That makes a big difference.