Study: Asthma, Hay Fever, Other Allergies Not Linked to Mental Health Traits

Evidence of a causal relationship between the onset of allergic disease and mental health was limited, suggesting that the observational associations found were due to confounding or other forms of bias.

Despite prior research that shows an observational relationship between mental health and common allergic diseases, there is no proof that allergic diseases directly cause mental health traits, such as anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder, according to researchers from Bristol Medical School: Population Health Sciences and School of Psychological Science.

The team looked to isolate the effects of the diseases by using the Mendelian Randomization technique, which allows them to identify genetic variants linked to these allergic diseases. They then further investigated how these variants were casually related to the presence of mental health conditions based on a sample of 12,000 to 344,901 individuals.

Evidence of a causal relationship between the onset of allergic disease and mental health was limited, suggesting that the observational associations found were due to confounding or other forms of bias, according to the study authors. They concluded that intervening on the presentation of allergic disease is unlikely to improve mental health outcomes.

Even with these new data, more research is required to investigate whether intervening on the progression of allergic disease after onset has any causal impact on mental health, according to the study.

“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 study lead author Ashley Budu-Aggrey, MD, in a press release. “Disentangling the nature of the relationship between allergic disease and mental health helps answer an important health question and suggests that the onset of allergic disease does not cause the onset of mental health traits or vice versa.”

Senior study author Hannah Sallis, MD, added that this research used a combination of approaches and data from several previous studies.

“This helps to strengthen our confidence in the findings,” Sallis said in the press release. “Establishing whether allergic disease causes mental health problems, or vice versa, is important to ensure that resources and treatment strategies are targeted appropriately.”

REFERENCE

Allergies including asthma and hay fever not linked to mental health traits. University of Bristol. October 6, 2021. Accessed October 6, 2021. https://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2021/october/allergies-and-mental-health.html