Link Between Allergies and Depression
Each season change comes with its own challenges for people who suffer from allergies. Symptoms like sneezing, coughing, headaches, sore throat, red and itchy eyes, sniffling, runny nose, and many others plague allergy sufferers throughout the allergy season. These allergy symptoms can be moderate in some while severe in others and also vary in the fact that while some people are able to go about their daily activities with only slight discomfort, while others start feeling physically sick. Now, research has shown that allergic rhinitis or other allergies is linked with an increased rate of depression along with suicidal behavior (1). This is not to say that anybody who suffers from allergies also has depression or anxiety and vice versa. However, it certainly means that if you have a history of allergies, you are at an increased risk for depression. So what exactly is the link between allergies and depression? Let's take a look.
What is the Link Between Allergies and Depression?
There is a strong link between allergies and depression. Perpetual suffering from allergies or any other ailment is bound to get a person down and can lead to feelings of depression and mood swings. A person suffering from allergies is surely known to feel bad for many days in a month or the week. When you feel under the weather for a couple of days in a month, it is unlikely to cause any changes to your overall mood. However, when you start experiencing more of the bad allergy days than good ones, it is likely to have an effect on your overall outlook, and that too not for the better.
Well, life, of course, does not come to a grinding stop when you deal with allergies, and this means that you still need to continue with your daily schedule, regardless of whether you feel well or not. Allergies can easily affect your performance at work and school, and depending on the severity of your allergy symptoms, any physical activity that you do will prove to be draining and take a toll on your health.
While most people do not tend to associate their allergies with depression, there is actually quite a deep relationship between your mood and your physical health (2). In fact, one of the leading causes of clinical depression is known to be stressful events and illnesses in life (2). For example, a diagnosis of a serious disease, such as cancer or coronary heart disease is likely to make a person more susceptible to depression.
While allergies are not as serious as cancer or heart disease, but the fact is that when a person starts feeling sick every day, day after day, it starts to take an emotional toll on the person, regardless of the seriousness of the disease.
Research from The City University of New York published in 2017 has indicated that children who suffer from food allergies and those who do not, experience a major difference in the levels of social anxiety (3). The researching team observed that children between the ages of 4 and 12, children who suffered from food allergies also had a higher level of social anxiety and general anxiety as compared to children who did not suffer from any food allergies. The anxiety level was also increased in children from a lower socioeconomic status who suffered from food allergies. However, this study did not find any direct link between food allergies and depression.
Can Treatment of Allergies Resolve Depression and/or Anxiety?
If you experience severe to moderate bouts of depression every time your allergies kick in, then managing your allergy symptoms is likely to help you feel better physically, and also have a slight effect on your mood for the better. So, yes; treatment of allergies will definitely help resolve the feelings of depression and anxiety resulting from your allergy.
It is best to try and avoid the allergy triggers as much as possible and if at all you feel your allergies flaring up. Also, take any over-the-counter or your prescribed allergy medication well in time to avoid your allergy symptoms from worsening.
Certain lifestyle changes can also help with your allergies and also help prevent allergies and these include:
- Wash your bedding frequently to avoid allergens from accumulating on the bedding (4).
- Make a routine to vacuum the house once or even two times a week to prevent allergies (4).
- Keep the windows and doors closed in order to lower the exposure to outdoor allergens.
- Wear a mask when cleaning the house or when working outside of the house in the garden or the yard.
- Rinse your nasal passages.
- Avoid being around cigarette smoke to prevent allergies (5).
- Sip hot liquids or warm water to thin out the mucus in your throat (6).
If you feel you might be suffering from a food allergy, then you can always ask your doctor for a blood test or a skin test that will help identify the specific food that triggers your symptoms.
Can Treatment Make Allergies and Depression Worse?
You need to be aware of the possible side effects and ingredients of your over-the-counter or prescription allergy medication. While antihistamines are quite effective for allergies, they may also cause constipation, an upset stomach, or general feelings of fatigue and drowsiness as side effects thus making you feel worse (7). The side effects are usually temporary, though they may heighten your depression and anxiety. This is why it is important to consult your doctor once before you take any medication for your allergy. If you experience any unpleasant side effects, then stop taking the medication immediately. Consult your doctor about an alternative medication. A lower dose of the allergy medication may also prevent the side effects, and also continue to provide relief from your allergy symptoms. But, adjust the dosage only after consultation with your doctor.
There are many people who live with year-long and seasonal allergies. If you are unable to control your allergy symptoms or if your allergy symptoms are very severe, then allergies are likely to bring on depression and/or anxiety. You should consult your doctor about what options are available for getting relief from your allergies, and also for treating a mood disorder if you feel that your depression is becoming difficult to manage. With certain healthy lifestyle changes and the right medication, you will be able to manage your allergy and also get rid of your depression.
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