Someone I know takes medicine for anxiety. I know this person very well and know that the condition can many different issues including restlessness, difficulty concentrating, irritability, sleep disturbances, and muscle tension.
There are varying types of anxiety disorders like phobias, PTSD, panic attacks and panic disorder (which are not the same thing..I did not know this!) and each individual will have their own triggers that will cause the onset of their condition.
I started wondering if having anxiety could worsen a persons allergies.
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.
The relationship between allergies and anxiety is complicated, because it's not entirely known.
Are your 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.
Or is your 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.
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.
So if you think your allergies are aggravated by your anxiety OR your anxiety is aggravated by your allergies, go see an Allergist AND a M.D. to break that cycle!
VentMask would love to help reduce both your allergies and anxiety about allergies by helping you to remove more airborne allergens in your home. Less allergens and less anxiety induced allergy attack and vice versa!
Wishing you the best health-TheVentMaskTeam