Is There a Link Between Hay Fever, Depression and Anxiety?

hay fever

Your allergies may be a direct cause of depression.

Before delving into recent research investigating the link between allergies and mental health we’re going to talk about hay fever. We will describe hay fever and go over some hay fever symptoms and then touch on seasonal allergies.

Once we have an understanding of what hay fever is we can talk about the possible link between the allergy, depression, and anxiety. If you’ve never heard of the condition or are just unaware of what it is, keep reading to find out!

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What is Hay Fever?

Hay fever is something that causes cold-like symptoms but is not caused by a virus. Hay fever is an allergic reaction to outdoor or indoor allergens. These allergens can be pollen, dust mites, tiny flecks of skin and saliva shed by pets such as cats or dogs or any other animal that has fur or feathers and can be referred to as pet dander. The symptoms can seriously affect day to day performance, interfering with daily life. They can also be noted as:

  • Runny nose
  • Congestion in the nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Red eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Cough
  • Itchy nose
  • Itchy roof of mouth, throat
  • Blue, swollen area under the eyes
  • Postnasal drip
  • Fatigue

Thee seasonal allergies can worsen at certain times of the year and can be noted as triggers. These triggers for symptoms can include;

  • Spores – These come from indoor and outdoor fungi or molds that can be considered seasonal
  • Dust mites – These can come from cockroaches and pet dander and can be year round
  • Ragweed pollen – common in the fall
  • Grass pollen – common in the spring and summer
  • Tree pollen – common in spring

Seasonal Allergies and Anxiety

A study performed at the Technical University of Munich in Germany looked at a group of participants that were either;

  • Allergy-free
  • Had seasonal allergies related to pollen
  • Had perennial allergies related to pet dander
  • Had other allergies such as food or insects

Their findings found that the participants that were living with generalized anxiety disorders and stress tended to also have seasonal allergies. This was not the case with the individuals who had perennial allergies, which are yearlong, but on the other hand, this group of participants was more prone to also having depression. Although the link is unclear from this study about the association between anxiety and seasonal allergies, or year-round allergies and depression they will continue studies to find out the specific background to where the association lies.

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When speaking specifically about hay fever and its symptoms in the United States, we’re looking at around 50 million people who are affected by this type of allergy. Recent findings have shown a link between certain mental health issues in adolescents and seasonal allergies such as hay fever.

Research was conducted on how hay fever can impact the life of an adolescent in relation to sleep and school. Their findings reflected that the allergy can have an emotional burden on adolescents because of the itchy nose, eye allergies, and cold-like symptoms. They were able to state that adolescents with the condition reflected higher rates of anxiety and depression with more impulsive actions such as hostility and indecisiveness.

On the other hand, hay fever can also play a huge role in sleeping patterns for adolescents and sleep is incredibly important for this age range because it can ultimately affect school, performance, and achievement academically. 

If you believe that you may be suffering from hay fever, or your child, a visit to the doctor can be a great way to rule out seasonal allergies such as hay fever. A visit to the doctor should happen if:

  • You, or your child, is unable to find relief from hay fever symptoms
  • If medications specifically for allergies are unable to provide relief or cause nasty side effects
  • If you or your child have other medical conditions that could worsen symptoms

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