I’m doing a kind of “A-to-Z Selfie” project for 2017. This involves writing blog posts of a personal nature. If you’re interested in the topic, please feel free to chime in! If not, you’ll be happy to know that more bookish content will be published soon.
I have allergies. Not to food, that I know of, but what people sometimes call “seasonal” allergies — you know, itchy eyes, being generally unable to breathe due to floods of snot, that kind of thing. Except, for me this problem persists through all 4 seasons. Allergies and related respiratory/skin issues run in the family.
I have also been relatively recently diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (+ underlying persistent depression, possibly, though I remain skeptical of this tentative diagnosis). Affective disorders also run in the family.
Why am I talking about these issues? And why am I talking about them together… ?
I’ll answer the 2nd question 1st: Because, surprisingly, there is some evidence that links the two conditions.
People with allergies are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and related issues than the general population, and vice-versa. The specific reason(s) for the correlation are still unclear. It doesn’t look like one condition causes the other, and having one problem doesn’t automatically = having the other. The correlation could have something to do with sleep disruption, general inflammation, or genetics among other things.
The reason I started looking into this has to do with a medication that I was prescribed: hydroxyzine, a first-generation antihistamine. This stuff is used to treat both severe allergy symptoms and panic attacks, and even obsessive behaviors associated with OCD. I regularly take the OTC antihistamine cetirizine, which is the 2nd-gen version of hydroxyzine. I thought it was extremely interesting that a different version of the same medication that I use to keep the snot at bay might also be used to keep anxiety at bay.
As to the first question — why I’m telling the Internet that I have allergies and anxiety — that’s because I don’t think it does either society or individuals any good to pretend that any illness doesn’t exist, especially mental illnesses. Being in the dark does nobody any good, and the only way to combat the darkness is to shine light on the situation, right?
If you also deal with allergies + anxiety or similar issues, or if you just have questions, please feel free to talk to me about it!
Goodwin, R. D., Galea, S., Perzanowski, M., & Jacobi, F. (2012). Impact of allergy treatment on the association between allergies and mood and anxiety in a population sample. Clinical & Experimental Allergy, 42(12), 1765-1771.
Qin, P., Mortensen, P. B., Waltoft, B. L., & Postolache, T. T. (2011). Allergy is associated with suicide completion with a possible mediating role of mood disorder – a population‐based study. Allergy, 66(5), 658-664.
Rosenblat, J. D., Cha, D. S., Mansur, R. B., & McIntyre, R. S. (2014). Inflamed moods: A review of the interactions between inflammation and mood disorders. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, 53, 23-34.
Sansone, R. A., & Sansone, L. A. (2011). Allergic Rhinitis: Relationships with Anxiety and Mood Syndromes. Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience, 8(7), 12–17.
Wilczynska-Kwiatek, A., Bargiel-Matusiewicz, K., & Lapinski, L. (2009). Asthma, allergy, mood disorders, and nutrition. European Journal of Medical Research, 14(Suppl 4), 248–254.