Lyme borreliosis and mental disorders: literature review

Simona Galnaitytė1, Neringa Umaraitė1, Ugnė Karneckaitė2,3

1 Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Academy of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Kaunas, Lithuania

2 Vilnius University, Faculty of Medicine, Vilnius, Lithuania

3 Public Institution “Center policlinic” Outpatient Clinic, Vilnius, Lithuania



Background: Lyme borreliosis is a disease that affects more than one organ system and is caused by Borrelia bacterium spread by ticks of the genus Ixodes. There is increasing evidence that Lyme borreliosis manifests with neuropsychiatric symptoms. The resulting mental disorders worsen the quality of life, lead to disability or even death.

The aim: to analyze and review the newest literature and evaluate the association between Lyme borreliosis and mental illness.

Methods: The search of the scientific literature was performed in Pubmed, Google Scholar online databases, using the following keywords and their combinations: „Lyme borreliosis”, „psychosis”, „suicide”, „homicide”, „dementia“. 27 publications published in 2011-2021 in English language were included. Descriptive analysis was used to analyze the literature.

Results: Lyme disease can manifest with a variety of neuropsychiatric symptoms, which occur due to Lyme disease or during the illness and ease or disappear after an appropriate treatment with antibiotics and psychotropic drugs. Patients with history of Lyme borreliosis may tend to aggression, which manifests as a predisposition to homicide or suicide. Episodes of psychosis characterized by hallucinations, disorientation in time, space and delusions of persecution are possible in the late-stage encephalomyelitis. Neuroborreliosis can also manifest as a cognitive impairment that occurs isolated or together with the other symptoms.

Conclusion: It is important for health professionals to understand the links between Lyme disease and neuropsychiatric disorders for the effective prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

Keywords: Lyme borreliosis, psychosis, suicide, homicide, dementia.