“…Researchers are starting to realize that, although getting bitten may be stressful, tick-borne infections could actually trigger panic attacks and other psychiatric disorders in some people.
“THE DETAILS: “After treating thousands of patients with tick-borne disease in the past 20 years, it appears psychiatric symptoms are more commonly seen when there is a co-infection,” explains psychiatrist Robert Bransfield, MD, president of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) and vice president of the New Jersey Psychiatric Association. Co-infections (when a tick passes along more than one disease) most often involve Lyme, babesiosis, a malaria-like infection that can cause fever, night sweats, and anemia; and bartonella (cat scratch fever), a bacterial infection that causes fever, headache, and raised skin rashes. Co-infections are most often culprits in tick-related panic attacks and anxiety, and these multiple infections from tick bites are quite common, occurring in an estimated 30 percent of cases.
“Dr. Bransfield, who is also associate director of psychiatry at Riverview Medical Center in New Jersey (a state with a high prevalence of Lyme disease), points out that 240 peer-reviewed scientific articles demonstrate an association between Lyme and other tick-borne diseases and mental illness. For instance, a small study published in The Clinical Journal of Pain in 2005 found that patients experiencing panic attacks also suffered other symptoms not typical of standard panic attacks—extreme sensitivity to light, touch, and sounds, joint pain, mental fogginess, and migrating pain, all of which can be symptoms of Lyme disease—and those people tested positive for Lyme and babesiosis, which, like Lyme, is on the rise in the U.S. Once treated with antibiotics for both diseases, the patients no longer experienced panic attacks.”
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