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Fluticasone and Anxiety - Can It Help?

Certain daily health issues can become considerable problems if left untreated. One example is asthma, which can create generalized anxiety disorder and possibly trigger panic attacks.

So some people that start taking fluticasone hope that it can reduce some of the anxiety that they experience from their allergies and asthma. Will taking fluticasone reduce your anxiety? We explore that idea in this article.

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No Asthma Medication is an Anxiety Cure

Unfortunately, fluticasone is not going to cure your anxiety. There is never a single issue that causes anxiety, and even with the relief you get from the medication your anxiety is likely to last. If you want to get rid of your anxiety, you should take my anxiety test now.

In fact, there is some evidence that fluticasone can actually cause anxiety as a side effect.

Fluticasone and Anxiety: A Dangerous Mix?

Fluticasone is a prescription-only anti-inflammatory corticosteroid whose job is to reduce inflammation of bodily tissue. Because anxiety is a possible side effect of fluticasone, people who suffer from anxiety may want to rethink taking it as medication- particularly if it is being taken to treat breathing problems.

Risk Overview of Fluticasone Treatments

How you take fluticasone depends on what you want it to do. Some forms of fluticasone treatment are higher risk for anxiety sufferers than others. The list below provides an overview of the different types of fluticasone treatments and which you will most want to avoid if you are prone to anxiety and/or panic attacks.

Fluticasone is used in three different forms to treat three different types of ailment. These include:


As a preventative medication for asthma, fluticasone is taken via an inhaler on a daily basis to teach cells in the lungs and breathing passages not to release the substances that result asthma attacks such as mucus buildup.

Because this is a treatment that must be administered every day, it notably increases the risk of anxiety attacks for people with pre-existing anxiety problems.

Hay Fever

Fluticasone can be used to help treat hay fever symptoms such as sneezing, and itching or runny nose. For this ailment, the nasal spray form of fluticasone is recommended for as long as symptoms last. This form is referred to as "fluticasone furoate" (pronounced floo-TIK-a-sone FURE-oh-ate).

Though this treatment is only required seasonally for people with allergies, it still must be taken with enough frequency that it significantly increases the risk of anxiety attacks.

Skin Disorders

The epidermal pain, itching and/or swelling caused by various skin disorders can also be treated with fluticasone. This ailment requires a topical application of fluticasone by means of a cream or lotion. Fluticasone in this form is called "Fluticasone Propionate" (floo-TIK-a-sone PROE-pee-oh-nate).

Meant to work quickly, this form of fluticasone is not designed for long term use. For this reason it is the lowest risk form of fluticasone treatment for anxiety sufferers.

Breathing Problems and Anxiety: A Vicious Cycle

If you frequently experience anxiety, or have been professionally diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, there could be serious health consequences to taking fluticasone as a treatment for breathing problems, whether asthmatic or allergy-related.

Breathing problems and anxiety in combination create what might be referred to as a "vicious cycle:" you find that you are struggling to breathe, which causes panic (specifically an increased heart rate) and subsequently the body attempts to draw in extra air to feed to the blood being pumped faster throughout the body, which creates further breathing difficulty and further panic.

For this reason, if you know you are suffering from anxiety, or if your breathing problems have ever resulted in a panic attack, adding a medication with a possible side effect of increased anxiety is generally not advised for your health.

How Extra Corticosteroids Increase Anxiety

Steroid hormones are naturally produced in the brain's adrenal cortex. Copies of these hormones can be synthesized in laboratories, which is where you get medical corticosteroids. These "artificial" steroids are meant to be taken to increase the level of natural corticosteroids already in the body, often to treat ailments involving the inflammation of tissue.

Corticosteroids are involved in a wide range of physiological processes, including stress response (as well as regulation of inflammation, immune response, carbohydrate metabolism, protein catabolism, and blood electrolyte levels).

For this reason, anxiety is one of a wide variety of possible severe side effects of corticosteroids, a list including steroid psychosis, hyperglycemia, insulin resistance, diabetes, osteoporosis, cataracts, depression, hypertension, and erectile dysfunction.

Like almost any prescription medication, corticosteroid meds can be addictive if used improperly. Addiction to corticosteroids for anxiety sufferers can be extremely problematic, and can even lead to breathing problems where none existed before.

Chicken vs. Egg Conundrum: Which Causes Which?

It is unknown for certain whether your breathing problems cause anxiety, or whether psychological problems including anxiety can actually cause breathing problems.

Studies show that people suffering from anxiety disorders often complain of poor physical health as their primary concern. Panic attacks are frequently characterized by a sense of impending doom, with accompanying physical symptoms including chest pain, dizziness, and shortness of breath.

Due to this uncertainty, it is important to avoid making anxiety worse, as it could potentially lead to breathing problems, or to an increased frequency of relapses for pre-existing breathing problems.

Anxiety disorders occur in between 16-52% of those with asthma (according to the 2010 study "Asthma, health and society a public health perspective") and is recognized as a relatively common complication for people with hay fever allergies. This means that even if you have not been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, you are more likely to have one simply because you have a breathing problem.

If you have found that anxiety is complicating your breathing problems, talk to your doctor, and consider addressing your anxiety directly in order to make sure that your breathing problems don't create anxiety - or vice versa.

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Korte, S. M. Corticosteroids in relation to fear, anxiety and psychopathology. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 25.2 (2001): 117-142.

Rodrigo, Gustavo J. Comparison of inhaled fluticasone with intravenous hydrocortisone in the treatment of adult acute asthma . American journal of respiratory and critical care medicine 171.11 (2005): 1231-1236.

Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.

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