even your seasonal allergies can be influenced by your mental health; make your emotional well-being as important as your physical health.

If you are like me then the falling leaves and crisp cool air of  fall’s arrival also means the arrival of sneezing, congestion, and runny noses.  Although spring takes the wrap for being “allergy season” the truth is that for many people autumn is just as bad or even worse.  Ragweed and mold, common triggers for those with allergies, are plentiful in the fall causing many of us to suffer rather than celebrate the beauty of changing leaves and pumpkin patches.  The thought of watery eyes and clogged sinuses may give some of you reason to feel anxious about the impending season but what about panic attacks or depression?  It turns out that there is a small but growing body of research exploring the link between seasonal allergies and mood disorders including anxiety and depression.

For those suffering with asthma, the link between emotional state and respiratory function may already be obvious.  The Academy for Asthma and Allergy and numerous other health organizations  and  have identified emotional stress and anxiety as possible triggers for asthma attacks.  And much has been written on the impact that depression and anxiety disorders can have on your immune system thus making you more susceptible increased symptoms.  But what about the impact of allergies on the likelihood of developing anxiety symptoms?  A recent study in the American Journal of Psychiatry suggests that the connection between mood disorders and respiratory illness (like asthma and hay fever) may not be so clear cut. It seems that there is a high incidence of asthma/allergies and mood disorders.  While significant enough to warrant further study, there is no research to suggest whether one causes the other or if there is one common factor that increases the likelihood of both allergies and anxiety.  At least not yet.

While we are a long way from fully understanding how these two conditions may be related it is another example of the inescapable connection between mental health and physical health.   Maybe one day we will treat anxiety with allergy shots or manage asthma with psychotherapy but for now it seems the best way to treat whatever ails you is to remember the power of the mind-body connection.  Health care is a holistic endeavor and in order to truly be healthy we must tend to your complete self- mind, body, and spirit.  So the next time you are reaching for your allergy medicine, take a minute to think about how you can reduce stress or increase social support.  The combination of addressing your physical and emotional needs can only lead to a more enjoyable and healthier season.

For more ideas on how to manage your stress check out this article I wrote last winter on avoiding stress