Most people think of swollen and painful joints when they think of Lyme disease, if they think of anything at all. However, when you look at the symptom list, you can see that every part of the body can be affected. The frightening collection of neurological symptoms experienced by many Lyme-disease patients is frequently called “neuro-lyme”, but in fact only represents a portion of the illness.
Lyme spirochetes can invade the central nervous system within 24 hours of the tick bite,so it is not surprising that so many neurological and psychiatric symptoms can be manifested.
Through the support of Time for Lyme, Inc, an affiliate of the Lyme Disease Association, a national non-profit corporation, and of the Lyme Disease Association itself and of private donors and foundations, Columbia University is expected to establish the first Lyme Disease Research Center in the United States. The Lyme Disease Research Center will focus on the problem of chronic Lyme disease, including the search for better diagnostic tests and treatments, drawing upon the vast resources of the Columbia University Medical Center. For more information see Columbia University’s Lyme Disease Research Center
Dr. Fallon is Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and is also the Director of the Lyme Disease Research Program at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. A graduate of Harvard College, he obtained his M.D. degree from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, as well as a Master’s Degree in Public Health Epidemiology from Columbia University. He is probably the foremost authority on neurological Lyme disease.
According to Dr. Fallon, Lyme disease can be easily treated if caught early. However, sometimes people don’t get symptoms for years after they are bitten, so they don’t realize they are infected.
Dr. Fallon says it is a difficult illness to have, because doctors fight among themselves about the accuracy of a patient’s diagnosis (whether or not they actually have Lyme Disease) and also about how to treat the illness. Lyme also has a fluctuating symptom pattern, so a sufferer might feel fine one day, and not be able to get out of bed the next.
Doctors sometimes dismiss Lyme Disease as hypochondria, and it is often misdiagnosed as a host of other disorders, including depression. He says that common symptoms are fatigue, numbness and tingling, headaches, sleep disturbances and irritability. In addition, people can often get psychiatric symptoms, including changes in mood, problems with anxiety, and even, in rare situations, paranoia or full-blown mania.