Psychosocial Adjustment

Child

In a study conducted by Healy (2000), the child's adjustment was found to be highly variable and depended on the severity of the Lyme disease as well as the organ systems affected. Premorbid cognitive, behavioral, and psychological functioning as well as family stability greatly affected a child's reaction to his or her illness. After illness onset, children have to adjust to changes in their ability to participate in many aspects of daily life. A child's mood, school performance, and energy level can all be affected. Adolescents with undiagnosed Lyme disease are seen more often for psychiatric illnesses such as de pression than children without Lyme disease. Many of the behavioral changes caused by Lyme disease are similar to depression and other psychiatric illnesses such as anxiety (Fallon et al. 1998).

Fatigue is a major issue for most children with Lyme disease. Many children need to alter their schedules and decrease their activity level so they are not overexerting themselves, a task that may be challenging and upsetting for children (Healy 2000). Case studies have linked Lyme disease in children and adolescents with anorexia nervosa, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, and psychotic features (Whitaker et al. 2002).

Parent

Chronic Lyme disease usually results from delayed diagnosis. Parents may feel angry, frustrated, fearful, and helpless regarding their child's health. Parents often blame themselves for not seeking treatment for their child sooner and the physician for not testing the child earlier. According to Healy (2000), many parents feel that the physician played down the seriousness of the illness as well as the potential for sequelae, resulting in additional anger toward the physician. Parents' negative reaction to their child having Lyme disease is mitigated if they are educated about the disease, the course of illness, and the expected symptoms (Healy 2000).

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