Allergies and Depression

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Anyone who has suffered from seasonal allergies knows that they can play much more havoc on the mind and body than causing some sneezing and a runny nose. In fact, recent studies have showed that there is a possible real link between allergies and depression.

According to an article on usatoday.com, allergies also cause another realm of symptoms, besides the primary ones like sneezing, itchy eyes and runny nose, including fatigue, irritability, mood changes, and depression. Maybe it’s the allergy blues, but it seems that it can be much more severe and needs to be looked at closely.

A few reasons are noteworthy of why these other symptoms are possible when suffering from allergies, and these can be linked to poor sleep or even certain chemicals in the body. We know that when allergies are bothering people, sleep becomes an issue, whether from the discomfort of the allergy itself of a side effect from the allergy medication. When people don’t get the right kind or amount of sleep or suffer from insomnia, health and well being are affected, often with the above listed symptoms.

As for the chemicals, researchers have found that proinflammatory cytokines are released in the body during an allergic reaction. These are a kind of protein that can cause the release of another chemical, IL-1 beta, into the brain which can cause certain behaviors like weakness, lethargy and low moods. In a recent study, Paul Marshall, a clinical neuropsychologist in the department of psychiatry at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, says that research “strongly indicates that having allergies increases the likelihood of having depression twofold.”

Marshall’s concern here is how many allergists are aware of these related symptoms. It may be something important to look for and for allergists to inquire about when seeing a patient. If a person is already experiencing depression or other mood disorders, they can worsen in allergy season. The depressive symptoms shown in allergy sufferers may also be more of the physiological type symptoms, like fatigue or lethargy, than the emotional ones.

But this doesn’t mean that allergies and depression should not be taken seriously. Dr. Teodor Postolache at the University of Maryland led a review published in 2008 of the association between suicidal indicators and allergies. He noticed a peak in suicide rates during allergy season – April to June. There was a correlation between depression measurements and allergy symptoms in relation to the severity of tree pollen. The association also showed stronger in women.

There is a third theory on allergies and depression. It could be from the situation itself. Nobody likes to sneeze his day away, and nobody feels his best when constantly taking medication. Even with the newer allergy medications, it still alters something in the body. Recently, in an article in Beyondallergy.com, the correlation between school performance and allergies was discussed. When someone is not performing to their best abilities, moods can be lowered; depression can also be noticed. If an adult is not performing as well at work, or has to miss work, a slew of other factors can be affected, and depressive symptoms can manifest.

As we’ve often stated, allergies are so much more than what they appear to be. Whereas those that don’t suffer from them think of them as an annoyance, they don’t get the whole picture. Allergies can affect all facets of life, from school to work to family, and if one of those major things is being affected negatively, it can translate to a sense of well being and negatively impact that as well. With people paying more attention to the related allergy symptoms, maybe we can keep a better eye on any worrisome ones.

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