If you have an allergy, what does it mean for you?
Dr. Mark Aronica, an allergist-immunologist at the Cleveland Clinic, told Healthline that it's necessary to point out that studies like this that show an association between one condition and another doesn't necessarily reveal a cause. He stresses that people should approach these kinds of findings with caution.
"There's more data linking anxiety issues with people with food allergies due to the risk of serious life-threatening reactions," Aronica said. "This report may be the first suggesting an association with pollen allergies." Dr. Maria Garcia-Lloret, a pediatric allergy and immunology specialist at UCLA Health, echoes the same caution, especially noting the high average age of those interviewed.
Many people start experiencing allergies at a younger age, with seasonal allergies to pollen, for instance, waning over time as people age. Nevertheless, she says anxiety and stress over one's allergy symptoms isn't something to brush off. "It's true that stress can make your allergies worse," Garcia-Lloret added. "Perception plays a big role — it has to do with the psyche of the individual. Somebody has a little bit of a stuffy nose and they might absolutely lose it over that." In the medical world, an allergist isn't necessarily trained to treat or manage the psychological impacts allergies could have on a person, she says. Aronica says this kind of stress can certainly be an "exacerbating factor in almost any chronic disease and is likely underrecognized or undertreated."
From interviews with more than 1,700 people, the study authors found that seasonal pollen allergies seemed to lead to increased anxiety in people compared to year-round allergies. People with perennial allergies seemed to show higher rates of depression. Allergists say it's important to note that research like this doesn't definitively prove that allergies cause psychological disorders such as anxiety or vice versa. But managing the sometimes life-disrupting symptoms of an allergy can bring stress.Doctors suggest finding healthy ways to cope with allergies. Work closely with your doctor to figure out the best plan to treat and manage your symptoms.