Allergy symptoms include sneezing, a runny nose, coughing, a sore throat, and a headache. These symptoms range from mild to severe. While some people with allergies can go about their normal daily routine in only slight discomfort, others might feel physically ill.
CONNECTIONSIf you have depression and anxiety along with allergies, you might think the former conditions have nothing to do with the latter. But as it turns out, there appears to be a connection between allergies and depression or anxiety.
Interestingly, allergic rhinitis has been linked with higher rates of depression and suicidal behavior.
Now, this doesn’t mean that everyone who has allergies will also have depression or anxiety, and vice versa. But you may be at risk for depression if you have a history of allergies.
What’s the connection?
Anyone who lives with chronic, persistent allergies may attest to feeling bad most days of the week or month. Feeling under the weather for one or two days might not dampen your overall mood. On the other hand, experiencing more bad days than good could eventually affect your outlook — and not for the better.
Life doesn’t stop when you’re dealing with allergies, which means you have to maintain your daily routine even when you don’t feel well. Allergies can affect your performance at work and school, and depending on the severity of symptoms, any type of activity can be physically draining.
Even though some people don’t connect their allergies with depression, there’s a long-standing relationship between physical health and mood.
In fact, included among the causes of clinical depression are stressful events and illness. For example, being diagnosed with coronary heart disease or cancer can make a person more susceptible to depression.
Of course, allergies aren’t as serious as some health problems. Nonetheless, feeling sick day after day can have an emotional toll on you, regardless of the severity of the illness.
ALLERGENSIt’s important to note that allergens that may trigger depression and anxiety don’t only include dust mites, pet dander, grass, ragweed, or pollen. Depression might also occur if you can’t tame food allergies (shellfish, nuts, gluten).
The old adage holds true that “you are what you eat.” In a 2017 study of children with and without food allergies (between the ages of 4 and 12), researchers concluded that food allergies played a role in higher levels of social anxiety and general anxiety in minority children of lower socioeconomic status.
The study didn’t find a link between depression and food allergies.
Of course, mood disorders can occur separate of allergies.
Mild depression and anxiety can resolve on its own. If not, speak with your doctor about treatment. Options can include psychotherapy, an anti-anxiety or antidepressant medication, or a support group.
Home remedies might also prove effective, such as:
TREATING ALLERGIES CAN HELPTreating allergies may also improve depression and anxiety. Allergic rhinitis releases cytokines, a type of inflammatory protein. It’s believed that this protein can have a negative effect on brain function, triggering sadness and depression.
Along with taking allergy medication, you can fight inflammation with food. Eat more leafy greens, berries, and nuts. Also, ginger and green tea can help reduce inflammation, as can getting plenty of sleep, massage therapy, and regular exercise.
If you have bouts of depression or anxiety when your allergies flare, getting control of your allergy symptoms can help you feel better physically, and possibly lift a sad mood.
Avoid your allergy triggers and take over-the-counter or prescription allergy medication to keep symptoms at bay.
Lifestyle changes can help
- Wash bedding frequently.
- Vacuum your house once or twice a week.
- Keep doors and windows closed to reduce exposure to outdoor allergens.
- Avoid scented products (candles, lotions, perfumes, and so on).
- Wear a mask when cleaning the house or working in the yard.
- Rinse out your nasal passages.
- Sip water or hot liquids to thin mucus in your throat.
- Avoid cigarette smoke.
If you suspect a food allergy, ask your doctor about a skin test or a blood test to help pinpoint the foods that trigger your symptoms.
Make sure you’re aware of possible side effects of over-the-counter and prescription allergy medications. These medications are effective, but they can also cause drowsiness, an upset stomach, or constipation.
Sides effects are usually temporary. They can, however, make you feel worse and heighten depression or anxiety.
SIDE EFFECTSStop taking a medication if you experience unpleasant side effects. Ask your doctor about an alternative drug. Sometimes, a lower dose can stop side effects, while continuing to provide allergy relief.
Many people live with seasonal and year-long allergies. When you’re unable to control their symptoms, allergies can lead to anxiety or depression. Talk to your doctor about options for allergy relief, as well as your options to treat a mood disorder.
With the right medication and lifestyle changes, you can put allergy symptoms behind you and get rid of the black cloud hanging over your head.