Misperceptions on Allergies May Affect One’s Mental Health

Misperceptions on Allergies May Affect One’s Mental Health

A group of researchers from the UK conducted a survey study and discovered that misperceptions about allergies might impact the emotional health of individuals who suffer from them.

Allergies occur when the immune system reacts to a substance as if it’s a potential threat. Many people across the world suffer from different allergies: the US alone counts over 50 million people triggered by a variety of allergens. The most common ones are food, pollen, and dust.

Some sufferers have mild symptoms, while others experience serious, even life-threatening difficulties. However, previous research has shown that allergies may also influence one’s mental health.

For instance, researchers from the US found a connection between seasonal allergies and a greater risk of mental health problems. On the same note, a team from Taiwan independently came to the conclusion that allergies are associated with greater chances of developing psychiatric problems. Likewise, UK researchers learned that allergies can be linked to anxiety, depression, and several physical disorders. But, we still don’t know whether allergies actually cause these problems or accompany them.

In an attempt to answer that, the Allergy UK survey study included people with and without allergies. The research team learned that the three most common allergies among the participants were:

  • hay fever
  • asthma
  • eczema.

Additionally, more than a third of the respondents had negative perceptions about individuals with allergies. For instance, 37% said that allergy sufferers claim their condition is worse than it actually is, and about 35% said some individuals pretend to have allergies to avoid particular foods. On the other hand, individuals with allergies claim the condition impacts their emotional well-being. The research team also learned that allergy sufferers:

  • want to play down their allergy because they’re afraid of being judged
  • avoid social events due to the severity of their symptoms
  • feel that their condition impacts their performance at work.

Parents whose children are allergy sufferers said the condition affects the children’s emotional health. Also, some children experience negative mental effects due to their condition, such as feeling isolated because of being bullied by peers.

The researchers therefore wish to raise awareness about allergy sufferers and the issues they experience, so as to help them overcome the stress and live without feeling scared.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels

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