Category: Lyme overlap with other Diseases
What is the relationship between OCD and Lyme disease?
OCD is a neuropsychiatric illness that is quite common, occuring in 1 in 40 individuals. Typically it starts in either childhood or young adulthood. The cause is undoubtedly multifactorial, but there is a strong genetic contribution. The neural circuity underlying OCD connects the orbital frontal brain area with the basal ganglia. If there is injury to this circuitry in a healthy person, OCD may result. This has been reported for example with wasp stings to the caudate.
The important point regarding infections and OCD relates to the observation that certain infectious illnesses have resulted in a higher than expected incidence of OCD. This was reported after the Von Economo's viral epidemic in the 1920s and again more recently among children after strep infection. We have seen children and young adults develop new onset OCD after getting neurologic Lyme disease. There was improvement after IV antibiotic treatment in some of these cases, raising the issue of whether Lyme disease causes OCD in some situations. Given that the individuals we've observed this in did not have a family history of OCD or other predisposing features (such as trauma or other OC spectrum disorders), it seems reasonable to suspect that Bb may affect a portion of the brain in some individuals and trigger OCD. This is speculative at this point and requires further study.
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