We often forget about the interaction between our body systems. That is especially true when it comes to the impact of mental health on other areas of the body.
The best example is the anxiety that occurs with public speaking. For many individuals this type of situation creates a lot of social anxiety. Their palms get sweaty. Their heart rate goes up. They hyperventilate. These are all real physiological symptoms, however, there is no physiological cause. The cause is simply anxiety.
Another example is associated with ulcers. We acknowledge the fact that stress contributes to ulcer formation, however, it is caused by a reaction to stress. The problem is the actual ulcer is a real physical result of that stress.
A new study from Germany suggests anxiety can cause other physiological symptoms.
The researchers evaluated patients for things that suggested stress. They looked at things that suggested anxiety. They then looked at these individuals for a history of allergic reactions. They were surprised to find that seasonal allergies are more common in patients with anxiety and stress.
This might not be that big of a deal if it were not for the fact that seasonal allergies are so common. They represent the sixth largest cause of chronic illness in the United States.
We treat them with allergy medication. Some patients respond well to those medications while others do not. Some medications are prescribed while others are over the counter. Some people will go to the ER for allergy symptoms or they may be referred to an allergist.
This raises the question of whether these patients might benefit more from treatment of anxiety. Perhaps the allergy symptoms are secondary to the anxiety. It is like having a fever from pneumonia. Tylenol alone will not help until the pneumonia is treated.
Another finding of the study was that people who are depressed have year long allergies rather than just seasonal allergies.
Since this was an initial study, it will need to be repeated. It will also need to be refined to make sure that other factors may not be involved.
However, in the meantime, those individuals with seasonal allergies might want to look at their lifestyle. If they are stressed out, there may be an opportunity to improve their allergy symptoms.
If they’re anxious all the time, there might be an opportunity to improve their allergy symptoms.
Our body systems interact in multiple ways. Sometimes that interaction is relatively obvious. Sometimes it is not.