Leonard Sigal, MD, clinical professor and former chief of the Division of Rheumatology at Robert Wood Johnson UMDNJ Medical School, explains the term “Lyme anxiety” and its association with a chronic Lyme disease diagnosis.
Interview Transcript (modified slightly for readability):
“Lyme anxiety: the anxiety related to Lyme disease, usually related to the diagnosis of chronic Lyme disease. So, somebody walks into the office with erythema migrans, who’s done a little bit of research, and says, ‘That. That’s Lyme disease, isn’t it?’ And I say, ‘Yep. We’re going to give you some antibiotics and you’re going to get better.’ And the overwhelming majority of people in that setting do get better.
It’s the person who walks in with vague complaints, no physical findings, nothing that I can say, ‘That’s what it is.’ It’s a vague constellation of complaints. Those people, somebody has told that that it’s Lyme disease; it might have been at the grocery checkout; they might have been looking at something on the internet; they might have been going to a physician who claims that it’s chronic Lyme disease. And then they would wind up coming to me at the referral center that I used to run at Robert Wood Johnson.
And they’re scared out of their minds because they think ‘I’ve had this disease for who knows how long. Look what it’s doing to me. I’m not going to be around to watch my children grow up.’ People’s anxiety runs wild. Should you be concerned if you have Lyme disease? Sure. Is there reason to be afraid of it? A little bit, sure. But to approach hysteria is in nobody’s best interest and it’s really unnecessary. And it’s really one of the really toxic consequences of this ongoing debate about chronic Lyme disease.”
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