It Is Not Always As It Seems

It is not always as it seems
By Rev. Paul N. Papas II
Fri Aug 07, 2009, 05:11 PM EDT

You have probably heard the phrase; “That if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, acts like a duck, then it must be a duck.”

Then there is the phrase; “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

If someone you know had with flu-like symptoms and fever, headache, sore throat and joint pain, then developed many other physical symptoms including eyelid droop, neck pain and arthritic symptoms, cognitive symptoms what would you think?

Perhaps later they exhibited things such as memory and concentration impairments, ADD/ADHD like symptoms, learning disabilities, OCD/crying spells, rages, depression/bipolar disorder, panic/anxiety disorders and psychoses, what would you think? What if you only saw the last group of symptoms, what would you think?

I can tell you may doctors would miss this answer.

Most people would be looking to the psychiatrist for an answer. Many could be on a path to treat the symptom, rather than the cause. There could be a round of therapies prescribed to treat the memory and concentration impairments, ADD/ADHD like symptoms, learning disabilities, OCD/crying spells, rages, depression/bipolar disorder, panic/anxiety disorders and psychoses. Meanwhile the real cause goes unchecked and untreated.

There isn’t anyone on earth who has all the answers. That is we have such things as this newspaper to help get the word out. That is why we organizations such as NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) try to help educate and stop the stigma of mental illness.

If you were the one who had the symptoms above how would like to be forced to go to a psychiatrist and take medication for a medical condition of a mental illness?

Now add that your condition has not improved, but perhaps has worsened. Now add that people you knew may now treat you differently because they believe you now have a mental illness and start distancing themselves from you. You might start doubting yourself and resign yourself to a much different world filled with medications and therapy sessions.

You might be screaming on the inside that something is not right. Your verbal protests may not be taken seriously or just ignored. You might hear such responses such as “Just adhere to the treatment plan we has decided you should have …. we know what is best for you.” You no longer have control of your life, a committee or doctor does.

This does happen.

People are judging you by your cover.

People, even trained professionals, are thinking if you act like and have all the classic symptoms of a medical condition of a mental illness then you must be treated for a mental illness in order to get better.

Somebody missed the bull’s eye rash that may have appeared earlier. Somebody did not do any tests for Lyme disease. Lyme disease is caused by the bite of a deer tick infected with Bb spirochete. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 4 percent of Massachusetts residents were infected with Lyme disease in 2007. How many were treated for a different medical condition of a mental illness is not stated.

You may obtain more information about Lyme or other tick-borne illnesses you may go to http://www.LymeDiseaseAssociation.org. There you will find a list of recommended laboratories, which specialize in testing for Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses.

Sometimes Lyme disease tests are inaccurate and a structured clinical interview can assess patients who test negative for the parasite.

Lyme disease is treatable and should be considered as a possibility when diagnosing and treating mental illness, especially if the patient lives or has traveled in regions of the country with high infection rates.

Obviously, not all symptoms mentioned above are caused by a bite of an infected deer tick. However both medical conditions are treatable.

You can’t fix it or treat it unless you know what it is.

Sometimes we just don’t know the correct questions to ask. Just keep asking! It may not be a duck that you are looking at.

The Rev Paul N. Papas II is a Pastoral Counselor with Narrow Path Ministries (located in MA and AZ), founder of the Family Renewal Center and past President of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Greater Framingham. NAMI Greater Framingham has support groups for family and friends in Framingham and Uxbridge, support groups for consumers in Marlboro and Framingham , and various Education Meetings on the first Thursday evenings of the months from September through May http://www.narrowpathministries.org, http://www.familyrenewalcenteraz.org, and http://www.namigreaterframingham.org

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