Asthma, Allergies, Atopic Dermatitis…and Mental Health

A new study published in Frontiers of Psychiatry in April 2018 shows a link between allergic conditions and certain psychiatric disorders. This is the first study to find a connection between allergies and the overall risk of developing psychiatric disorders. The psychiatric conditions that were included in the study were depression, anxiety, dementia, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, sleep disorders, and psychotic disorders. The research was based in Taiwan, covering a 15 -year period, and used the Taiwan National Health Insurance Program database. The study enrolled a total of 186, 588 patients, including 46, 647 people with an allergic diseases, and 139,941 people without allergic diseases. Over the 15 year period, the research found that 10.8% of people with allergic diseases developed a psychiatric disorder, compared with 6.7% of those without an allergic disorder.  This translates to a 1.66-fold increased risk of developing psychiatric disorders for people with an allergic disease.

Allergies and Atopic Dermatitis

Interestingly, those with asthma and allergic rhinitis (hayfever) were considered to be at higher risk for developing psychiatric disorders, whereas those with atopic dermatitis (eczema) had a lower risk. Men were at higher risk compared to women, and older people were at higher risk compared to younger people (<20yrs old). So why is there a link? Well, one possible cause is inflammation. Recent research has shown a link between psychiatric disorders and inflammation, including depression and anxiety. And allergic diseases also involve inflammation. There is still more research to be done in this field, but for now, it is good for clinicians and patients to have awareness that those with allergic conditions may be at higher risk of psychiatric diseases, and should seek appropriate mental health services if showing signs of a psychiatric disorder.

While this connection should be studied further, we have certainly seen in our practice the impact that uncontrolled allergies and asthma can have on a person’s life. Some patients have itchy skin or hives keeping them awake at night, or young children suffering from asthma flares, or anxiety about running the mile. Others feel fatigued and unfocused at work because they are not sleeping well due to nasal congestion at night. Some children are fearful of all food because of their severe food allergies. Uncontrolled allergies and asthma, or food allergies, can impact an entire family and bring a lot of stress to a household. In addition, many allergy medications, especially 1st generation antihistamines such as Benadryl not only make many people sleepy but can also cause or aggravate depression.  And decongestants, such as Sudafed, can cause anxiety as well as insomnia (and can also interact with some antidepressants, such as amitriptyline). Our providers are here to help you develop a plan for your allergies and asthma so that you can feel confident and prepared. We can help you to control your allergies and asthma more effectively, so hopefully you are having better quality sleep, and are able to participate in your daily activities so you can enjoy our beautiful Spring and Summer. Let us help you manage your allergies and asthma to improve your health!

Get Your School Forms In!

This is the time of the year to start getting in school forms for the 2018/2019 school year! You may drop the forms off to our front desk or upload them to our Patient Portal and our healthcare providers will complete them. You must also complete a School Form Request which can be found on our website or at our front desk. Please allow 1 week to process this request. If your child has not been seen within the past 12 months, please schedule a follow up appointment this Summer with one of our providers, as we will need to see your child before we can complete these forms.

Download May 2018 Newsletter (opens in PDF)