Mental Illness


Thought is an infection. In the case of certain thoughts, it becomes an epidemic.
-Wallace Stevens




One of the reasons you are crazy is because people lie to you all the time.

It's hard to make reasonable decisions when you don't have the right information.

Another reason is because you are sick. 

And then there's always this wacky fact-  the erroneous information you get makes you sicker....


These are three forms of biologically induced mental illness that I believe are extremely prevalent (and one that isn't).   They all seem to have one thing in common-  acute presentations as well as slowly accumulating pathology.






Yeah.  so….this is what has fueled most of the last two years of my life. 

A comment in an email I received from a retired doctor:


“There is enough research interest in herpes virus antibodies in the brains of demented patients that I have been taking acyclovir pills every day for years. “


Oh really…





Not only that...

The documented evidence of herpes viruses causing neurological and behavioral effects is  at least a hundred years old.   It has been mentioned in social literature since the Greeks. 


Acute herpes encephalitis (infection of the brain) causes psychosis.   All the evidence shows chronic infection also causes cognitive dysfunction.

  • The expanding spectrum of herpesvirus infections of the nervous system.   Herpesviruses cause various acute, subacute, and chronic disorders of the central and peripheral nervous systems in adults and children .  Recent large studies have shown that these viruses more frequently produce brain disease in immunocompetent hosts than was formerly realized.

  • These studies demonstrate that latent HSV infection can alter neuronal gene expression and might provide a new mechanism for how persistent viral infection can cause chronic disease.

  • Herpes viruses have been found in postmortem multiple sclerosis brain tissue.

  • Viral burden of herpes virus and cytomegalovirus was associated with cognitive impairment in home-dwelling elderly.   The authors even say: “This association may offer a preventable cause of cognitive decline.”

  • Both CMV and HSV1 are associated with impaired cognitive function in schizophrenia.

  • Serologic evidence of herpes simplex virus 1 infection is associated with cognitive impairment in schizophrenia.

  • Schizophrenia susceptibility genes are directly involved in the life cycles of pathogens: cytomegalovirus, influenza, herpes simplex, rubella, and Toxoplasma gondii.

  • Infection with herpes simplex virus type 1   is associated with cognitive impairmant in bipolar disorder.

  • Herpes simplex virus interferes with amyloid precursor protein processing.    These data suggest that herpes infection can directly alter the processing of a protein intimately linked to Alzheimer's Disease.

  • Herpes viruses have actually been found in plaques in the brains of Alzheimer's patients.




After all that and many more, this is the article that freaked me out.   The one that sent me running from the computer.


The characteristics of progressive dementias in patients with herpetic encephalitis 

It was determined that progressive dementia is one of the clinical forms of chronic herpetic infection.


I really didn’t want to know what else I could find.




However, while  I was obsessively copying all that information I had a nagging thought:  If microbes cause psychosis, shouldn't anti-psychotic drugs have antimicrobial properties?   I had to know.

And Yes.   It was even obvious to the patients. 




And then the bacteria took over my skull.






Lyme disease-                            

I am just putting this in here to show there are bacteria with direct psychoactive effects. 

These symptoms are very often mistaken for depression or narcolepsy.


(for the time being, lifted unceremoniously from Wikipedia.  All Hail the Great and Glorious Wikipedia.)


Lyme disease is an emerging infectious disease caused by at least three species of spiral bacteria belonging to the genus Borrelia. Borrelia is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected ticks belonging to a few species of the genus Ixodes ("hard ticks"). Early symptoms may include fever, headache, fatigue, depression, and a characteristic circular skin rash called erythema migrans.

Days to weeks following the tick bite, the spirochetes spread via the bloodstream to joints, heart, nervous system, and distant skin sites, where their presence gives rise to the variety of symptoms of disseminated disease. After several months, untreated or inadequately treated patients may go on to develop severe and chronic symptoms that affect many parts of the body, including the brain, nerves, eyes, joints and heart.

Chronic neurologic symptoms occur in up to 5% of untreated patients. A neurologic syndrome called Lyme encephalopathy is associated with subtle cognitive problems, such as difficulties with concentration and short-term memory. These patients may also experience profound fatigue. Chronic encephalomyelitis, which may be progressive, can involve cognitive impairment, weakness in the legs, awkward gait, facial palsy, bladder problems, vertigo, and back pain. In rare cases untreated Lyme disease may cause psychosis, which has been mis-diagnosed as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Panic attack, anxiety and delusional behavior can also occur.




I really want to talk about

Our Good Buddy Streptococcus again...


This one is just fascinating.     The psychiatric symptoms aren't caused by the pathogens, but by the antibodies.     Like Guillain-Barre syndrome is an "allergy" to flu-  this is an autoimmune reaction to strep.   Some people make cross-binding antibodies to streptococcus.  Except these bind to the brain instead.


There's a diabolical twist, though.  The aberrent portion of these antibodies is a similar shape as dopamine.   So they fit into dopamine receptors.  So instead of suppressing brain function, it enhances it.  That has all kinds of interesting involuntary effects.



Sydenham's chorea -  in this disorder the antibodies bind to dopamine receptors in the basal ganglia that control movement.   The extra stimulation of those nerves causes these patients to move involuntarily-  jerking their arms and legs in a manner known as "Saint Vituses Dance".  They also exhibit mood disorders and obsessive compulsive behaviors.


Tourette Syndrome - this disorder is similar to Sydenham's as the dopamine receptors in the basal ganglia are affected.   However in this case the involuntary movements include vocalizations and motor tics in times of stress.   These people are also affected with OCD.


PANDAS -  Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcus.

This is an even less drastic form of the above.   These people show repetitive behaviors and OCD after a strep infection.




Those are acute cases.  Sudden and obvious abberent behavior.   Easy to classify.

And they are strictly defined.   PANDAS is restricted to children with confirmed Strep A infection within a certain time period.


It seems unlikely that the presentation of this trait is quite so limited in actual humans though.

It is only logical to think that acute incidents must have less drastic analogues.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health:

It is possible that adolescents and adults may have immune mediated OCD. Although the research studies at the NIMH are restricted to PANDAS, there are a number of reported cases in the medical literature of adolescent and adult onset OCD and TICS with GABHS and even non-Haemolitic streptococcus infections.


It is my belief that subclinical cumulative cases of this are common.   Very common.    And the symptoms are completely misinterpreted.  And this is why:  


Nobody ever complains about a little extra dopamine.  


In addition, a slowly accumulating bacterial burden would be expected to produce incremental mood changes.  Those can be easily ascribed to other causes.   Like your annoying job or spouse.






Dopamine is really nice.  Dopamine is the definition of fun.   If you were hooked up to a dopamine drip, you would press the button until you died.   Cocaine also fits into dopamine receptors, that's why it's addictive.    Dopamine mimicry also gives you that energy boost on cocaine.


If you produce these antibodies, you have the ability to produce your own happy chemicals.   

So if you get an infection, these symptoms are pleasant and rewarding, and you ignore it.  Play through the pain.  You ride the high and start some massive, intricate project of *great* importance.  Your brain races and you can't believe how much there is to do.  You work sixteen hour days and want to do more.  

But after a while you get distracted and start doing more and more things which facilitate infection.   Like sitting in front of the computer all day and eating a lot of sugar.  And it gets worse - you get obsessed.  and compulsive.  The motivation becomes anxiety and then insomnia.  

Finally, the infection itself becomes problematic-  goes systemic.   You begin to suffer the symptoms of the actual illness-  fatigue and depression.    You can no longer manage your daily life.   You crash and burn.

And THEN you go to a psych and since your symptoms are "behavioral" they never even think of testing you for bacteria.   They tell you to take prozac or xanax  or ritalin or whatever...


That pretty much describes half of America.




A subclinical infection can produce a constant supply of antibodies.

And because the antibodies travel in the bloodstream, the infection can be anywhere.  Mine happen to be in my teeth right now.  But any flesh wound is a good trigger too.  Strep lives on the skin and any compromise triggers an immune response.  Pretty sure this explains compulsive piercing, cutting and tattoos. Not to mention extreme and violent sports.

Self injury is the hallmark behavior of autoimmune OCD.


Don't fool yourself.  It's really easy to see, and fun to watch this in other people. 

<insert latest celebrity meltdown here>

You never recognize it in yourself until it's too late. 

Much like drugs-  this kind of insanity feels good and is addictive. 


Here's a couple  songs about dopamine if you think I'm not talking about you.




For the record, ALL cataloging librarians surely have this trait.   In case anyone wants to do some studies....






Food intolerances and allergies are associated with a number of mental illnesses.

Gluten and casein intolerance are associated with schizophrenia.

Gluten intolerance is also associated with many other neurological symptoms.


The digestive system is run by the brain.   It is intricately connected to the reward centers of the limbic sytem.  Food stimulates the parts of your brain which make you happy.  When you damage the nerves in your digestive tract you mess up the circuits in your mood regulation center.


Remember orexin?

Orexin depletion results in lowered levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain.

Orexin depletion is strongly correlated to Major Depressive Disorder and suicidal ideation.

Believe me- you do not want to end up with narcolepsy-  it makes you freaking crazy.


Other digestive nerves have similar connections to those areas.




Diets very low in carbohydrates induce use of fat as an energy source, this is known as ketosis.

Ketogenic diets are known to improve the symptoms of certain mental illnesses:  schizophrenia, narcolepsy, epilepsy.  


Ketogenic diets may lower symptoms by:




This model also explains the waxing and waning of symptoms.


I believe the interactions between food and host and microbes are the underlying motivation for the self-selected dietary restriction which is a common behavior among mentally ill individuals.   Unfortunately, because of the insidious psychoactive effects, we often choose things which accelerate the infection instead of suppress it.


You can create a "perfect storm" in a couple ways:

  • You can induce several acute illnesses at once-  having one infection or allergy does not preclude you from having another.

  • Subclinical damage accumulates until the results are catastrophic-  this is usually the result of misinterpreting vague and intermittent symptoms.


Unfortunately, neither one of those is fun.


Conversely, you can inadvertantly ease your symptoms. 

If you change your diet, or get your teeth cleaned, or  take antibiotics for some other reason, for example.




You know it's odd-   if you have infection induced mania, and an allergy that causes depression-   You get something that looks suspiciously similar to bipolar.   Go figure.





Before anyone starts hyperventilating over this idea and succumbs to the urge to declare some direct relationship between microbes and immoral behavior-  go get some blood tests.  These pathogens are ubiquitous.   And self-righteousness is a sure symptom of well established pathology affecting the amygdala.

Just trust me on that one. 




I would like to point out here, that unlike societal expectations and self-esteem problems, these conditions can result in PERMANENT BRAIN DAMAGE.    OR WORSE.




I do not have all the answers.  But these are four very real illnesses that cause psychiatric symptoms- headaches, dementia, psychosis, mania and depression.  That's four more than most doctors will test you for.

I can imagine any number of other common illnesses that might be causing similar or other mental disturbances.  And there are certainly more things going on than my tattered brain can extrapolate.  One of them is probably taking over my head as I type.   That's why the thing I want you to take away from all this is:


You have something REAL wrong with you.  

Psychological illnesses do NOT exist.

You cannot think yourself sick.  You cannot talk yourself well.


You would not treat a toothache with therapy.

And there's a very good chance that's exactly the problem.

Think about it:  crazy people invariably have bad teeth.  (see below)


If you have one of these immune responses or infections and follow the proper protocol-  you may actually recover in less time than it takes to even notice if Prozac is working.




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Digestive Problems Early in Life May Increase Risk for Depression

The findings suggest that some human psychological conditions may be the result, rather than the cause, of gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome.


Type-2 diabetes, an increasingly common complication of obesity, is associated with poor impulse control. Researchers suggest that neurological changes result in this inability to resist temptation, which may in turn exacerbate diabetes.

A similar association has been linked to food addiction, with a low availability of dopamine receptors present in people with greater food intake.




HIV is also extensively documented to cause cognitive and emotional dysfunction.

It is also more active in the presence of herpes viruses.

I do not have enough brain cells to think about that right now though.




Helicobacter Pylori is probably the number one cause of  anxiety and high blood pressure.  




I am also very concerned about EBV.   I do not think doctors take it seriously enough.

It also has many post-infection complications.  Like cancer.



New research:   Urinary Tract Infections 29 Times More Likely in Schizophrenia Relapse




There seems to be a zillion studies on the correlation between mental illness and bad teeth.

They almost invariable take these positions:


  • The effect of mental illness on oral health, ie. non-compliance.

  • The effect of common psychiatric medications on oral health.


Everyone finds a HUGE correlation.

Nobody ever considers the reverse causation.

They almost always assume that behavior dysfunction leads to dental decay.



Increased frequencies of caries, periodontal disease and tooth loss in patients with Parkinson's disease.

The frequency of patients with PD with untreated caries was high at stage II and above, and frequency tended to increase in patients who had low mental state examination scores.


Major depressive disorder:  Psychopathology, medical management and dental implications

MDD may be associated with extensive dental disease, and people may seek dental treatment before becoming aware of their psychiatric illness. MDD frequently is associated with a disinterest in performing appropriate oral hygiene techniques, a cariogenic diet, diminished salivary flow, rampant dental caries, advanced periodontal disease and oral dysesthesias. Many medications used to treat the disease magnify the xerostomia and increase the incidence of dental disease. Appropriate dental management requires a vigorous dental education program, the use of saliva substitutes and anticaries agents containing fluoride, and special precautions when prescribing or administering analgesics and local anesthetics.


Depressive symptoms in individuals with idiopathic subjective dry mouth

It has been known for many centuries that there is a relationship between saliva flow rate and emotional status. (pardon me?)  The significance of psychological processes in the subjective sensation of a dry mouth has been discussed earlier, and this study deals with the presence of depressive symptoms in individuals with idiopathic subjective sensation of a dry mouth. The subjects with a subjective dry mouth condition were significantly more depressive and also had a significantly higher frequency of depressive symptoms. Depression was found in 21.3% of the individuals with a subjective dry mouth sensation and in 3.2% of the controls. The results of this study indicate that, in some cases, subjective dry mouth may be of psychological origin.  (pardon me??)


A comparison of the oral health of persons with and without chronic mental illness in community settings

 The CMI group had significantly higher incidence in the following variables: self-reported dry mouth; consumption of carbonated beverages ; mucosal, lip, and tongue lesions; coronal smooth surface caries; severity of plaque and calculus; and salivary flow. No significant differences were evident in the M and F components of DMFS, in gingivitis or loss of attachment. The results indicate significant increases in risk factors and increased oral pathosis in persons with mental illness who live in community settings compared with a control group that showed dental neglect.


Dental health among institutionalized psychiatric patients in Spain

These findings suggest that institutionalized patients with mental illness in Spain have extensive untreated dental disease.


Oral health in Veterans Affairs patients diagnosed with serious mental illness

Patients who were not employed, experiencing financial strain, who smoked, who were prescribed tricyclic antidepressants, or prescribed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors were more likely to report poor or fair dental health. These variables were also associated with having tooth or mouth problems.


Tooth loss and periodontal disease predict poor cognitive function in older men.

Conclusion: Risk of cognitive decline in older men increases as more teeth are lost. Periodontal disease and caries, major reasons for tooth loss, are also related to cognitive decline.


The dental health of people with schizophrenia.

Conclusion: The dental health of people with schizophrenia is poor. Community mental health teams should encourage them to attend their community dentist regularly.


Factors which influence the oral condition of chronic schizophrenia patients

This study demonstrated that inpatients had greater amounts of dental disease than outpatients. The extent of dental disease among inpatients was directly related to the intensity of schizophrenia, magnitue of negative symptoms associated with schizophrenia, and length of hospitalization.


Oral Health of Psychiatric In-Patients in Hong Kong

Conclusions: Oral health status of chronic psychiatric patients seems to be considerably worse than that of the general population. Mental health professionals should pay more attention to preventive oral health habits of psychiatric patients.


Self-reported mental illness in a dental school clinic population

Mental illness may also affect dental treatment and patient management. This study examined the degree to which patients seeking routine dental care report these diagnoses. 26.77 percent reported at least one mental illness. Of all diseases and disorders recorded in the medical history, self-reported depression was second only to hypertension in frequency. Substance abuse, anxiety, anorexia, bulimia, insomnia, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder were also common findings. This study establishes the need for training of dental students to recognize and manage psychologically compromised patients.


Impact of viral and bacterial burden on cognitive impairment in elderly persons with cardiovascular diseases.






A Murine Model for Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Group A -Hemolytic Streptococcal Infection



A recent study found no link between strep infections and OCD or Tourette syndrome.


I would like to address these results. I do not believe they invalidate the hypothesis.  

The study used existing medical records from previous years with undisclosed diagnostic methods.   The lack of previous strep infection is assumed to be accurate.   It is completely possible that many of those included in the study were asymptomatic or harboring non-strep A bacteria.   The tests are extremely specific and strep C and G are rarely tested for.  It is possible other strep bacteria cause the same effect.  A further study with a more rigorous protocol is warranted.


I am quite sure I have this problem yet test negative for Streptolysin O.