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Lyme Disease and depression

Depression. It isn't all in your head. Some of the symptoms related to the brain and nervous systems that have been observed in Lyme patients are headache, tremor, facial paralysis (Bell's palsy), tremor, burning or sharp stabbing sensations, numbness, irritability, dementia, and mood swings. Depressing, huh? Yet not all Lyme sufferers experience all these symptoms. Clearly, they are not only related to Lyme; they may also be indicative of another condition. Especially during the holidays, it can be tough to manage the stress brought on by financial pressures, travel, and a busy social calendar.

If you're healing from Lyme, you must slow down and nurture yourself first. Stick your regular routine as much as possible, and cut down on work if you can swing it. Cook nutritious meals, get plenty of sleep if you can, and cultivate a practice of relaxation through gentle Tai Chi, yoga, meditation, or deep breathing. If you're a mom, or accustomed to being the caretaker, it can be difficult to ask for help, but you need to get over that. Recruit help from your family and friends. This is a good time to learn how to ask for assistance when carrying in the grocery bags, making beds, or tidying up for your relatives' visit.

Brain and nervous system involvement is usually a sign of late stage, or what is referred to as chronic Lyme. Get professional medical help if you suspect you may have Lyme, even if you have not tested positive for it. Most of the tests for Lyme disease are notoriously unreliable at this point. If you are unusually depressed, or your mood swings are worsening, and you also have some of the other symptoms associated with the disease, such as crushing fatigue, fever, rash, or arthritis, it is very important to consult a Lyme-literate doctor with experience in recognizing Lyme symptoms.

In the meantime, nurture your spirit as well as your body. Spend time with folks you really love. Rent funny DVDs, look for the humor in your everyday situation. It's there, even in our suffering. Take inspiration from other people who have survived serious diseases and recovered to live happy lives. Above all, during the holidays and beyond, don't let depression get you down! Bear in mind these wise words: This too shall pass.

Lyme symptom-free

I am finally back to living a normal, Lyme-free life. There were days that I never, EVER thought I'd get here, but it's happening. I'm upright, I'm productive, and I'm getting on with it. I'm relatively symptom-free. Sometimes, like this morning when the birds are singing and I can smell the yummy omelets that my sweetie is cooking in the kitchen, I feel absolutely great. (Or maybe that's the Holy Basil) However, there are no magic bullets. There has never been a day when I woke up and thought, "Hey! I'm all better." Getting over Lyme is not like getting over the flu. It takes time. A lot of time. It's been two and a half years since my diagnosis, and more than three since I began to deal with mysterious symptoms.

A tiny muscle in my left eyelid is twitching, but I'm going to chalk that up to staring at this computer screen.

I took the herbal tinctures from the Amazon for about a year. Dr. Cowden's protocol worked really well for me. Currently, I'm taking a very high quality colloidal silver and a host of other helpful supplements. In October of 2006, I had a month-long herx that manifested as itchy rashes on my shins and ankles. That was always where the worst of the rashes had been, for the two years prior. I kept taking the herbs, but I was nervous that the rash might worsen, so I wasn't increasing the doses like I wanted to. I struggled with the decision to increase the doses and take my chances with more herxes, or just step back and take small amounts until I got over it and felt like I could risk a herx. I didn't increase the doses for about two months, then in about February I started increasing, and I didn't break out or feel Lymie. So I slowly started to increase more and built up to the full dose, then stayed on it until about September.

Since October of 2006 I have had no major breakouts, no problematic rashes, and every day I feel incrementally better. Symptoms, good riddance.

Diagnosing Lyme Symptoms

Due to its many symptoms and its ability to mimic numerous other illnesses, Lyme disease remains tricky to diagnose. The bull's eye rash, with which the infection is frequently associated, is by no means the only symptom to be aware of. Indeed, only a relatively small percentage of people infected with the bacteria known to cause Lyme ever present with the bull's eye rash. Other symptoms include fatigue, fever, headache, joint pain, a rushing or jumpy heart, and an extreme sensitivity to bright lights, especially florescent lighting. Symptoms do not all appear in all Lyme patients, and they may present at different stages as the disease progresses.

Lyme is a multistage illness, and the first-stage symptoms mentioned above can all be mistaken as signs of another ailment. Joint pain can pass as arthritis, headache may be associated with other triggers such as workplace stress, eye strain, or menstruation. Fatigue is a universal problem, as many people suffer from lack of sleep, and when overcome by tiredness, tend to push themselves beyond a healthy limit with the assistance of caffeine. Because brain fog is primarily caused by a lack of sleep, there are many people who walk around each day trying to function normally while feeling mentally fuzzy. Thus it becomes confusing to discriminate in order to obtain a diagnosis. When is mental confusion, or the inability to make clear decisions, caused by a fatigue, and when is it part of a bacterial infection?

In advanced stages of Lyme, or in cases where the bacteria has affected the brain, called neuroborelliosis, inability to concentrate, memory loss, brain fog, speech problems such as stammering, and hallucinations are all potential symptoms, all of which, again, do not appear in every Lyme sufferer. Hallucinations can be expressed through any of the senses. They do not always manifest as visions. Some people hear voices or sounds which aren't there. Others feel sensations, such as a raging fever, when in actuality their body temperature is normal. Additionally, disorientation or a sudden onset of paranoia can be a symptom of this stage of Lyme disease.

There is no question that speech disorders, severe mental fog, and these other symptoms are upsetting and frightening. Yet once a clear diagnosis has been obtained, a Lyme patient can begin to heal using a multi-branched approach, including whatever is deemed needed by the patient and his or her team of medical support personnel. Painful and often torturous Lyme symptoms can be alleviated with effort and commitment to healing. Many Lyme sufferers eventually find themselves balanced and virtually healed from Lyme, often as a result of using a wide array of healing approaches, including pharmacological antibiotics, herbal and nutritional supplements, physical exercise, and mental and emotional support. Through heroic effort and a will to commit to their own healing, many people who have experienced even the severe and disorienting symptoms of neuroborelliosis have recovered from Lyme disease.

Ticks carrying lyme disease active in fall

Lyme disease treatments vary, and so do medical experts' opinions about which treatments are the most effective. Many physicians and Lyme sufferers advocate a balanced approach to treatment, emphasizing the importance of a high quality diet, supplements, exercise, plenty of sleep, and a positive mental attitude in addition to herbal or pharmaceutical antibiotics. Evidence suggests that the spirochetes, the agent that carries the disease throughout the body, are more effectively eliminated when a variety of treatments are employed. The bacteria are likely to hide in cyst form throughout the body's organs, such as the brain and the heart. When treatment is varied, either in type or timing, the bacteria are more likely to be "surprised," unprepared for attack, and thus killed.

Lyme disease attacks every level of the body, so it makes sense to use a multilevel approach to treatment. While seeking treatment, especially if you are drawn to exercise outside during temperate fall weather, bear in mind that this season is rife with risks for those of us who live in the western US. Adult western ticks are active in the late fall and winter. Many Californians are unaware of the potential for contracting Lyme disease, remaining under the false impression that it doesn't occur on the west coast.

Those who hike, bike and walk in the woods and on the scenic California trails are not the only ones who should be vigilant. Ticks who carry and can transmit Lyme disease can be found in urban and suburban neighborhoods as well as in the mountains and meadows. They are bloodsuckers, dependent on passersby for a living. They aren't picky whether the warm-blooded creature who passes is a dog, a mouse or a human, just as long as they can hop on. Ticks can only move around in about a nine foot circumference on their own. In order to get a warm meal and a ride, the tiny critters -- about the size of the period at the end of this sentence -- climb to the tips of grasses, waving their legs and waiting. You are wise to consider seeking treatment for Lyme disease if you suspect a tick bite, and have any of the common symptoms associated with the illness, such as fever, overwhelming fatigue, skin rash, and joint stiffness. Seeking early treatments for Lyme disease raises your success level in dealing with, and healing from, this serious bacterial infection.

Autumn leaves and Lyme disease anxiety

A picture arrived in my inbox this morning, my friends' adorable one-and-a-half-year old son playing in a giant pile of freshly fallen leaves. His chubby cheeks are rosy and he's smiling like an imp. But the picture made me itchy and uncomfortable. Immediately, I thought of Erythema migrans, or "bull's eye rash," which is a common symptom of bacterial infection in the early stages of Lyme disease. The rash is caused by the bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease. The Bull's eye rash appears as a red, slightly itchy skin rash with a clear, or whitish central area. However, Erythema migrans is not always a symptom present in patients with Lyme disease.

Lyme disease symptoms don't always show up in the form of a rash, although many people believe the bullseye rash is the most common type of symptom. Other symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, and arthritic pain in the joints. Many people pass off the fatigue and headache as common exhaustion from an overly-busy schedule. The disease is stealthy, not always directly signaling that something's wrong.

Ticks naturally thrive during the warm summer months, but due to warmer weather in the fall and winter, it is still crucial to check for ticks, many of which carry the Lyme disease bug, AKA Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium. In many cases, the evidence suggests that if a tick is found on the body, its removal within 24 hours can prevent it from downloading its toxins into the skin. After a long struggle with Lyme disease and its crushing symptoms, my enjoyment of some of life's simple pleasures has been tainted, such as a picture of a cute little nature imp in a pile of leaves.