The Stigma of Lyme Disease



The public face of modern medical science is one that inspires confidence and promises solutions. Watch a tv commercial or look at a print ad for a doctor or a hospital. They care about you! They know what they are doing! They have advanced degrees, are up to date with the most cutting edge developments in the medical world! If you are feeling unwell, a trip to the doctor and a few tests later and you will be on the road to recovery with a pill in your pocket.

Of course, we all know that this is painting a rosy, and simplified, view of the medical experience. Sometimes the medical system fails to heal, or even to provide a satisfactory diagnosis. Then there is another thing that can happen. Something that is rarely talked about.


What happens when doctors simply don’t believe you? When diagnostic tests come back negative and you are told that symptoms are “all in your head”? This is, heartbreakingly, what happens with many, many people who are suffering from Lyme disease and tick borne illnesses.

Despite decades of research, diagnosis and treatment attempts, not to mention the millions of people (with the number increasing every year) suffering and seeking wholeness—there is still a large group in the medical community that do not recognize Chronic Lyme disease or Post Treatment Lyme disease disorder as an official diagnosis.

Then there is the lay community. A sufferer of Lyme disease might have concerned family and friends who don’t understand and don’t believe them, urging them towards mental health resources—with all good intentions and love of course, but it can still hurt.

If you are a Lyme disease sufferer, then you know what I am talking about. Lymedisease.org recently reported that the stigma of Lyme disease profoundly affects patients’ access to care. “The majority [of Lyme disease patients] said they have been treated disrespectfully by a healthcare provider (74%) or have postponed or avoided medical treatment due to discrimination, disrespect or difficulty obtaining care (67%).”

In short—there is a stigma surrounding Lyme disease.

The question is—why?

In her book Illness as Metaphor Susan Sontag writes “The less we understand about a disease the more we tend to psychologize or stigmatize it.” By and large, the human brain rebels at the unknown. If something isn’t understood or familiar, the comforting thing to do for our pattern seeking brains is to either 1) dismiss it, 2) categorize it with the known, or 3) avoid and shun. A small percentage of the curious will desire to explore the unknown and make whatever discoveries therein dwell.

Lyme disease is not the only malady that has historically been stigmatized. Before they were better understood, many illnesses and their sufferers shared this same fate. HIV, postpartum depression, ulcers, multiple sclerosis, leprosy, and tuberculosis among others have all been misunderstood and their sufferers stigmatized and isolated.

Lyme disease is misunderstood and complex. It often can go undiagnosed because many people never realize they were bitten or never get the textbook “bulls-eye” rash. Diagnostic tests for Lyme disease are not widely accurate. Symptoms for Lyme disease, chronic Lyme disease, and post treatment Lyme disease vary widely and can mimic those of a host of other diseases and mental health disorders. The accepted, most widely used medical treatment for Lyme disease is often ineffective or the disease is caught too late for the treatment to be effective at all. Co-infections are common. All of this combined with poorly funded research stacks the deck against Lyme disease sufferers.

And yet there is hope!

There is a growing population of Lyme literate doctors being brought along by holistic health practitioners and functional medicine coaches who have long been leading the way to effective treatments and holistic care solutions. We know that it takes a whole body approach to healing to effect real lasting wholeness. At Lyme Support, we understand what you are going through, because we have been there and fought to regain our health. We understand Lyme disease and tick borne infections and most importantly we understand how to help you regain your strength and vitality. To learn more about us and how we can help you, go to https://lymesupport.com/coaching/.

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This article was written by Lyme Support. We know living with Lyme disease is complicated and there is never one simple answer. 1-on-1 guidance and practical, cutting edge solutions make the healing journey so much easier. If you are ready to make health, happiness, and hope your new normal, reach out to us! We offer personalized health coaching using a functional medicine approach. 

Lyme Support can also refer you to hospitals in Germany and Mexico offering advanced holistic Lyme protocols. For anyone struggling with tick borne illnesses, a hospital that treats the body as a whole can elevate you to a new level of normal. If you’d like more information about these specialized hospitals, we can help schedule you in and provide education on treatments. 

You can reach us via email at info@lymesupport.com or book a breakthrough call here –  https://calendly.com/christinelymesupport/breakthrough if you are ready to get clear on the next steps on your path to healing.

St Augustine, FL   |   Global

St Augustine, FL
phone: +1415.228.0296  (USA/Global)

The information provided through this website is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not medical or psychological advice. This information is to be used at your own risk based on your own judgment.

For our full Disclaimer, please go to lymesupport.com/disclaimer.