Dealing with any type of chronic illness can have a negative effect on your mental health. Besides coping with your symptoms, you have to navigate the complicated medical world of doctor’s appointments and tests – all while managing to still care for yourself. You might experience heightened anxiety or bouts with depression because of this struggle. If you have Lyme disease, these battles can be even more difficult. This condition is often misdiagnosed and misunderstood, which can end up having a significantly negative impact on your mental health.
Fighting Lyme disease can often feel like an uphill battle for many reasons. One of the main factors is that the medical community at large doesn’t generally accept or understand the condition. Most doctors are not educated about the dangers of Lyme disease, its symptoms or appropriate forms of treatment. Unless you find a doctor who fully grasps the complexities and seriousness of Lyme, you will probably face medical professionals who end up misdiagnosing you or being dismissive of your symptoms. Having doctors question how sick you are or writing off your concerns can feel invalidating and frustrating. Because not all doctors truly understand Lyme disease, it can also mean that it takes much longer for you to get a proper diagnosis and an effective treatment regimen. This can lead to an increased risk of depression due to the hopeless nature of trying to get a medical professional to understand your health struggles.
Because many medical professionals aren’t up on the latest research about Lyme disease, it’s common for patients to get misdiagnosed with conditions other than Lyme. For example, if you are complaining of fatigue and low energy, a doctor might diagnose you with chronic fatigue syndrome or depression. Symptoms of joint pain and stiffness could get you a diagnosis of arthritis. Additionally, flu-like symptoms might be swiftly dismissed as a simple flu or virus, which likely means you wouldn’t get taken seriously as a potential Lyme disease candidate. Being misdiagnosed can lead to months (even years) of the wrong treatment, which means you won’t find any relief and you could become severely depressed until you get the correct diagnosis of Lyme disease.
Aside from being misdiagnosed, many Lyme disease patients have noted that they were not believed when they sought help from a medical professional. Some of this stems from the doctor being ill-informed about Lyme disease, but it’s also because a patient can often feel gravely ill without the doctor really knowing what’s going on. You could have flu-like symptoms and extreme fatigue, but the doctor might not believe you’re as sick as you say. Not being believed can have a huge effect on your psyche – it can be an isolating and lonely experience (which is only magnified when coupled with depression). Sometimes not being believed by medical professionals can result in a person beginning to question themselves. They might feel like they’re ‘going crazy’ because no one will validate how physically awful they feel. Not being believed also decreases the chance of feeling better, since the doctor won’t be prescribing the right treatment.
Another unfair aspect of Lyme disease is that insurance companies in the U.S. often won’t cover all of your medical costs (even once you’ve received the right diagnosis). Insurance companies are infamous for denying coverage even for well-known conditions, so Lyme disease patients are frequently faced with huge bills when trying to get the proper care. Insurance is even less likely to cover any type of alternative treatments or therapies. For example, you likely wouldn’t be reimbursed for purchasing beneficial supplements, such as MITO plus, which can help promote healthy energy and metabolism in Lyme disease patients. Having to pay out-of-pocket for all your health expenses can put a strain on your finances – which can result in additional symptoms of anxiety. It’s also easy to fall into a depression if you are stressed about how you’re going to afford your medical costs.
Lyme disease can also be a demoralising condition to live with because many of the symptoms are ‘invisible’. A chronic illness like this, where symptoms aren’t readily visible to others, can make you feel like no one understands what you’re going through. People can be critical if they can’t fully see or grasp that you’re suffering. This can lead to feelings of depression and hopelessness. Because you might feel like people don’t empathise with your condition, you might tend to isolate from friends and family – and isolation further breeds depression.
Lyme disease can come with a whole host of painful and debilitating symptoms. It can be discouraging to find that you’re unable to do the same things you were able to before you got the condition. Some people have to make many changes in their day-to-day lives just to cope. Hopelessness can creep in if you feel like you’re not able to achieve your goals (whether that’s at work, caring for your family, etc.). In order to take care of your mental health while dealing with Lyme disease, it’s imperative that you take part in as much self-care as possible. Anything from taking time out of your day to go for a walk to simply reading a book can help. You should also seek help from a mental health professional if you feel like you’re suffering from symptoms of anxiety or depression. They can help you discover healthy coping tools and determine if medication might be beneficial to you during your recovery from Lyme. Remember that caring for your mental health is just as crucial as getting treatment for your Lyme disease.