According to the findings of a recent University of Bristol-led study published in the journal Clinical and Experimental Allergy, allergic disorders such as asthma, atopic dermatitis, and hay fever do not promote the beginning of mental health conditions or vice versa. While prior research has found an observational link between mental health and common allergy disorders, causal links have yet to be discovered.
According to research, people with allergies have a higher frequency of mental health problems than other people. A new study looked at data from the UK Biobank to see if there was a link between allergies and mental health problems. The findings establish a link but provide no evidence that one sort of health problem causes the other.
Researchers from Bristol Medical School’s Population Health Sciences (PHS) and School of Psychological Science wanted to know if allergic disorders induce mental health symptoms such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, or if the opposite is true.
First, the researchers attempted to isolate the effects of these allergic diseases using a scientific technique known as Mendelian Randomisation, which allowed them to identify genetic variants linked to these allergic diseases and then investigated how these variants were causally related to the presence of mental health conditions based on a sample of 12,000-344,901 individuals.
Common mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression are some of the largest contributors to the global burden of disease, and the prevalence of these and allergic disease has been increasing for some time. However, this does not rule out a potential causative effect on illness development, which remains to be explored and could help find novel treatment techniques for allergic disease or mental health features.Dr. Ashley Budu-Aggrey
Although the researchers discovered observational connections between allergy illness and mental health features, these were not repeated in the team’s causal study. There was little evidence of a causal relationship between the development of allergy disease and mental health, implying that the observed relationships were attributable to confounding or other forms of bias.
The authors arrive to the conclusion that intervention at the onset of allergy disease is unlikely to benefit mental health outcomes. Similarly, delaying the onset of mental health features will almost certainly not lessen the chance of allergy disease. However, more study is needed to determine whether acting on the progression of allergy disease once it has begun has any causal impact on mental health.
Hay fever is often referred to as allergic rhinitis. It happens when natural allergens trigger a reaction that causes cold-like symptoms. These symptoms can include an irritating, dry, and persistent cough. Hay fever is common, with an estimated 40 to 60 million Americans suffering from it. Hay fever is classified into two categories. They differ in terms of the duration, timing, and causation of symptoms. Seasonal hay fever only manifests itself at specific seasons of the year. This is most common in the spring and fall, when plants, fungi, and molds produce reproductive spores. Because of the constant exposure to allergens in the environment, perennial hay fever frequently causes year-round symptoms.
“Common mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression are some of the largest contributors to the global burden of disease, and the prevalence of these and allergic disease has been increasing for some time,” said Dr. Ashley Budu-Aggrey, Senior Research Associate at Bristol Medical School: PHS and the study’s lead author. Disentangling the nature of the association between allergic disease and mental health answers an important health question by implying that the start of allergy disease does not induce the onset of mental health features or vice versa.
“However, this does not rule out a potential causative effect on illness development, which remains to be explored and could help find novel treatment techniques for allergic disease or mental health features.”
Dr Hannah Sallis, Senior Research Associate in Bristol’s School of Psychological Science and senior author, added: “The study employed a variety of methodologies and data from other studies. This contributes to our trust in the findings. It is critical to determine whether allergic disease causes mental health problems or vice versa in order to allocate resources and treatment techniques appropriately.”
The researchers examined data from the UK Biobank from people aged 37 to 73. However, because all of the participants were of European descent, the study’s findings may not be applicable to everyone. Another restriction acknowledged by the authors is that “phenotypic analyses were limited to older persons, so findings may not extend to younger populations.”