Allergies are a common condition affecting the vast majority of Americans in some form or another. Some people have mild allergies, consisting of a few sniffles when confronted with dust. Others experience profound and dangerous allergies, putting them at risk of death if they encounter the allergic substance.
Allergies are interesting, because even now more and more types of allergies are being discovered. Studies have shown that stress levels can actually increase allergy symptoms, and some foods that previously caused a bit of discomfort may actually be causing allergic reactions. There are also reasons to believe that allergies themselves can cause or contribute to your anxiety symptoms.
Cure Anxiety Despite Allergies
Whether or not you have allergies you can still confront your anxiety and cure it forever. By choosing a symptoms based comprehensive anxiety control strategy, you can genuinely stop all of your anxiety and live a happy and successful life.
Promoting Anxiety Reduction
Even if your allergies are contributing to your anxiety, there is plenty you can do to control it. Anxiety is still an emotional reaction despite a physical cause, so learning to control your anxious thought processes can still help you living a high quality of life.
That's why allergies or not, you should still focus on controlling your symptoms. Take my free 7 minute anxiety test to get started.
The Relationship Between Allergies and Anxiety
The relationship between allergies and anxiety is complicated, because it's not entirely known. Each person's body reacts differently, both to allergies and to anxiety, so it's difficult for researchers to pinpoint the cause and effect without significant clinical study. For researchers to understand the relationship they would have to test regularly on anxiety and allergy measurement scales from a young age over the course of years, and that is largely unfeasible. There are several theories to the relationship:
- Certain allergies cause changes to the brain and body, which internally cause anxiety.
- Living with allergies causes stress and discomfort, which may cause people to develop anxiety.
- Allergies do not cause anxiety, but make anxiety worse.
- Allergies have no effect on anxiety, but anxiety makes allergies worse.
- Allergies and anxiety are independent of each other but may have some common condition between them, such as differences in immune system health.
Researchers have found that any one of these could potentially be true with regards to anxiety. But even more likely is that all of them are true, and are simply true for different people.
Allergies Causing Anxiety
Whether allergies can cause anxiety physically is still unclear. Some allergies, like food allergies, do appear to have a link. Those with gluten sensitivity occasionally have blood flow issues to the brain that appears to cause anxiety. Other food allergies may also potentially contribute to anxiety, though "how" they do that is not entirely clear.
What some theorize is more likely is that living with allergies simply puts stress on the body. The coughing, the nose blowing - you encounter all types of allergies every day, from pollen, dust, medications, foods, and chemicals, and its possible they put stress on you and put stress on your body. All chronic stress has the potential to contribute to anxiety someday, and also hurts your quality of life (which also affects anxiety).
In this sense, allergies are causing anxiety, but the specific reactions as a result of allergies are not the direct cause. Further, several studies link living with some allergies as anxiety-producing. Skin allergies appear more associated with anxiety, presumably because skin allergies are visible and those that have them experience fear and embarrassment when their allergies arise.
Anxiety Causing Allergies
Anxiety does not appear to cause allergies directly. But it does appear to have an effect on the severity of allergy attacks. Researchers at Ohio State University found that not only did allergy attacks become stronger when a person was going through significant anxiety and stress - they also lasted longer, often moving on to a second or third day after the initial attack is over.
During stress, the body releases cytokines, and cytokines have an effect on the severity of your allergy attacks. Furthermore, stress and anxiety bother the immune system so that it functions improperly, indicating that it likely makes normal allergic reactions worse.
Those suffering from this issue likely developed anxiety separately from their allergies, but their anxiety still affects their allergic reactions.
Both Affect Each Other
The most likely scenario - as is often the case with anxiety comorbidities - is that the two are independent, but affect each other. Allergy attacks likely make anxiety worse, because they cause an even poorer quality of life and physical symptoms that may contribute to further anxiety. Anxiety makes allergies worse by altering the immune system and releasing more allergy causing hormones. Together, they become a cyclical problem that may not stop without the right treatment.
How to Stop the Allergy/Anxiety Cycle
Allergies and anxiety need to be address separately. A doctor can talk to you about your options for reducing your daily allergies. Several over the counter medications are available, and most are enough for basic allergies. Food allergies need to be carefully examined by a doctor, especially allergies to foods that contain gluten.
Anxiety has many options as well. Exercise is the most important thing you can do right now to help your anxiety. Therapy is also an option, although it may be expensive. Medicine should be taken as a last resort, especially if you are prone to allergic reactions - this is especially true of natural medicine, which can still cause allergies like any other and is often done without a doctor's supervision.
I can provide advice to overcome your anxiety, but to do that I need to know your symptoms. So fill out my free 7 minute anxiety test now to find out more about your anxiety and get treatment recommendations.
Annesi-Maesano, I., Beyer, A., Marmouz, F., Mathelier-Fusade, P., Vervloet, D. and Bauchau, V. (2006), Do patients with skin allergies have higher levels of anxiety than patients with allergic respiratory diseases? Results of a large-scale cross-sectional study in a French population. British Journal of Dermatology, 154: 1128-1136. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.2006.07186.x
Thoren, C. ten, and F. Petermann. "Reviewing asthma and anxiety." Respiratory medicine 94.5 (2000): 409-415.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.