Ways Allergies Cause Anxiety
10 WAYS ALLERGIES CAUSE ANXIETY
Whether you suffer from asthma, eczema, hayfever, seasonal allergies or food reactions, you may have noticed that allergies and sensitivities of any kind, can really affect your mental health. Research supports this idea too. Its been found for example that those with eczema and asthma are significantly more likely to have anxiety and depression as well.
Allergy symptoms and anxiety symptoms can also be so similar that they cross over.
- Increased heart rate
- Tingling sensations
Many of these symptoms can be a result of asthma, a food allergy or a panic attack. Because of this we can sometimes have trouble telling the difference between an allergic reaction and anxiety. Its even been suggested that when no medical cause of an allergy can be found, a psychiatric diagnosis should be considered instead. In other words, if your allergic reaction doesnt show up on paper, you may be treated as an anxiety or other mental health patient rather.
However the link between allergies and mental health goes beyond just the confusion of common symptoms. It’s definitely deeper than that. Having allergies and sensitivities can impact our moods and mental health in many ways. This includes both psychological as well as physical influences.
Here are 10 ways allergies can cause anxiety and influence our mental health.
1. Allergies are Stressful
2. The Body-Mind Effect
3. A Threat is a Threat
4. Breathing and Oxygenation
Can Anxiety Increase Histamine
Yes. Anxiety activates the stress response causing the release of stress hormones and other chemicals, including histamine, the chemical that leads to allergic reactions and allergy symptoms. Even though anxiety and the stress it creates doesnt cause allergies, anxiety can aggravate existing allergies and allergy sensitivities.
As anxiety-caused stress increases, so does histamine, which is why chronic anxiety and stress have been linked to increased allergies, allergic reactions, and allergy sensitivities.
Myth Vs Reality: What Does A Panic Attack Feel Like
Sometimes the hardest part is trying to feel understood through the stigma and misunderstanding of panic attacks.
Health and wellness touch each of us differently. This is one persons story.
The first time I had a panic attack, I was 19 and walking back from the dining hall to my college dorm.
I couldnt pinpoint what started it, what prompted the rush of color to my face, the shortness of breath, the quick onset of intense fear. But I began sobbing, wrapped my arms around my body, and hurried back to the room Id just moved into a triple with two other college students.
There was nowhere to go nowhere to hide my shame at this intense and unexplainable emotion so I curled up in bed and faced the wall.
What was happening to me? Why was it happening? And how could I make it stop?
It took years of therapy, education, and understanding the stigma surrounding mental illness to fully get a grasp on what was going on.
I eventually understood that the intense rush of fear and distress Id experienced many times by that point was called a panic attack.
There are many misconceptions about what panic attacks look and feel like. Part of reducing the stigma around these experiences is exploring what panic attacks look like and separating fact from fiction.
There are many different symptoms and its possible to experience feeling some of the symptoms, and not all of them.
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What Do They Feel Like 15 Symptoms & Signs
In order to identify if you are experiencing panic attacks, it is important to understand the symptoms and signs that may manifest.
Typically, panic attacks are brief and can last anywhere between 10 and 15 minutes. They come on fairly quickly and reach their highest peak within about 10 minutes.
At their onset, a panic attack can be characterized by:
- Fast or shallow breathing
- Quickening heartbeat
- Sharpening senses
As the attack progresses, further symptoms emerge as the flight response continues and the body is put on high alert.
Other symptoms that are often associated with a panic attack include :
- Numbness in lips and fingers/toes
Although panic attacks themselves typically last about 1015 minutes, these symptoms can persist for longer, most commonly for up to a few hours.
That is why it is important to understand treatment and intervention options to help shorten the duration of the attacks or prevent them altogether.
What Does Anxiety Look And Feel Like
- Physical symptoms like heart racing, headaches, restlessness, stomach aches, diarrhea, nausea, fatigue, fidgeting, insomnia and sweating
- Thought symptoms like excessive worry, fear of threats and danger, apprehension of uncertainties, questioning and doubting ones self, and perfectionism
- Avoidance to establish control of that which is feared and reduce the anxiety
Sound familiar? Ongoing fears of danger, avoidance of that which is feared, stomach aches, diarrhea, and nausea. Indeed, in many ways experiencing anxiety is synonymous with living with food allergies. As a food allergy parent, Ive been to that place where the stress shifts from helpful to unnerving. Where your fears are so intense and feel so big that they might consume you. Children and teens can also become overwhelmed by having to deal with lunchtime at school, feeling different, going to parties, and explaining their condition to others. Not to mention, symptoms of anxiety can even mimic a reaction.
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Physical Reactions Without External Stimuli
Fear is a normal and even healthy reaction to some things. For example, if a lion is chasing you, its great if your body floods you with adrenaline and you recognize the danger. However, the difference between that and a panic attack is that a panic attack will happen without obvious stimuli.
The fact that panic attacks seem to come out of nowhere make them especially terrifying for some people. Patients with panic attacks may feel like they are losing their minds or going crazy. However, a panic attack is a treatable condition that is relatively common.
Are Panic Attacks A Mental Health Condition
Having a panic attack, or even a few, doesnt mean you have a mental health condition.
But once youve had one panic attack even if it was just the one time its not uncommon to worry itll happen again.
As a result, you might start avoiding places, situations, and people that you think will trigger another panic attack. For example, you might start changing your daily routines or stop working out or going grocery shopping.
While changes in routines and habits can sometimes be a good thing, if they start causing problems in relationships or work, it might indicate an anxiety disorder.
Also, feeling constantly anxious about having a panic attack might actually lead you to experience one.
If this avoidant behavior and high anxiety continues and you experience regular, unexpected panic attacks, you might be diagnosed with panic disorder.
But you wouldnt be alone. Its estimated that at least 6 million people in the United States alone live with this mental health condition.
If you start avoiding social events or getting out of the house altogether for fear of having another panic attack and not being able to escape, then you might receive an agoraphobia diagnosis.
But not everyone who experiences panic attacks will be diagnosed with a condition such as panic disorder or agoraphobia.
In other words, anyone can experience panic attacks without having a panic disorder or mental health condition.
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Recovering From Panic Attacks: 2 Treatment Options
Several treatment options are available to facilitate recovery from panic attacks and panic disorder.
The process of determining which treatment is best is different for everyone, and ongoing consultation with your primary healthcare provider is essential in ensuring that your plan is effective for your specific situation.
A combination of therapy and medication is considered the best long-term solution for most mental health disorders, including chronic panic attacks.
Below are a few therapeutic treatment options to support individuals experiencing severe anxiety leading to chronic panic attacks.
What Do I Do If I Feel A Panic Attack Coming
As soon as you feel the first signs of a panic attack such as a higher-than-normal heartbeat try to de-escalate it by breathing deeply, and thinking of calming things. Ask family and friends to help you to deal with these initial stages, by distracting and soothing you too.
Here are some other examples of things people to do help panic attacks from occurring, or to help defuse them once they begin:
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Coping With The Aftermath And Getting Help
Its common to feel completely wiped out as your body and its processes return to normal after an extreme fear response. Someone whos just had a panic attack might not feel up to anything beyond quiet relaxation. Relax if you can, and be kind to yourself.
Panic attacks can be one of the first signs you have PTSD or C-PTSD. So, if you start to experience them, it is wise to seek professional help you may not have PTSD, but there are a number of conditions which can cause panic attacks, and they will be able to help you.
It can take time for someone with PTSD to learn relaxation techniques that work for them. Meanwhile keep reminding yourself these unpleasant experiences are temporary, and cant cause lasting damage.
NICE guidance updated in 2018 recommends the use of trauma focused psychological treatments for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in adults, specifically the use of Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing and trauma focused cognitive behavioural therapy .
Please remember, these arent meant to be medical recommendations, but theyre tactics that have worked for others and might work for you, too. Be sure to work with a professional to find the best methods for you.
Myth: People Experiencing Panic Attacks Need Assistance Or Medical Attention
Reality: It can be scary to observe someone experiencing a panic attack. But its important to remember that theyre not in any immediate danger. The best thing you can do is to remain calm.
While its important to be able to help someone distinguish between a panic attack and a heart attack, usually people who have panic attacks often are able to tell the difference.
If youre around someone having a panic attack and have already asked them if they need support, the best thing to do is respect whatever their answer is, and believe them if they state they can take care of it on their own.
Many people become adept at developing skills and tricks for stopping panic attacks and have a default plan of action when such situations occur.
I know exactly what to do to take care of myself in such situations, and often just need a bit of time to do the things that I know will help me without worrying about judgement from those around me.
If youve asked someone having panic attack if they need help, the best thing to do is respect their answer even if they say that they can handle it alone.
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Im Going To Falla Panic Attack Cannot Cause You To Lose Your Balance
Sometimes you may feel quite dizzy when panic comes on. It may be that tension is affecting the semicircular canal system in your inner ear, which regulates your balance. For a few moments you may feel dizzy or it even may seem that things around you are spinning. Invariably this sensation will pass. It isnt dangerous and very unlikely to be so strong that youll actually lose your balance.
If sensations of pronounced dizziness persist for more than a few seconds, you may want to consult a doctor to check if infection, allergies, or other disturbances might be affecting your inner ear.
Have An Emergency Action Plan Should An Allergic Reaction Occur
Planning for an emergency ahead of time eliminates having to sort it out in the midst of an allergy attack or allergic reaction. Having quick and easy access to your medication, having numbers to call in case of an emergency, and knowing routes to the nearest hospital can eliminate unnecessary worry and problems if your allergies are severe.
Also, its wise to discuss your emergency plan with your doctor.
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What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
If you have panic attacks, you may want to ask your healthcare provider:
- Why am I having panic attacks?
- What is the best treatment for panic attacks?
- How long will I need therapy?
- How long do I need to take medications?
- Should I look out for medication side effects?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Panic attacks can be extremely uncomfortable. Although theyre not physically harmful, they can take a toll on your mental health and stop you from doing the things you love. Dont be embarrassed to tell your healthcare provider that you have panic attacks. Your provider can help you overcome fears and anxieties that trigger attacks. You can get better with treatments like psychotherapy and medications.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/12/2020.
Anaphylactic Shock And Ptsd
As you might expect, having such an intense allergic reaction may bring about feelings of panic, anxiety, and fears of death in patients.
Feeling sad, nervous, worried, fearful, or even guilty are all normal reactions have an experience with anaphylaxis, whether it happened to you, your child, or a loved one. Such feelings usually pass within a few weeks. If they do not, professional help may be necessary.
Consequently, an anaphylactic shock could be considered a traumatic event that may lead to PTSD. In order to be diagnosed with PTSD, a person needs to experience an event that meets the following criteria:
- The experience or witnessing of an event where there is a threat of death or serious injury. The event may also involve a threat to a person’s physical well-being or the physical well-being of another person.
- A response to the event involves strong feelings of fear, helplessness, or horror.
Looking at the events that can unfold during an anaphylactic shock, there is no doubt that it can meet the criteria for a traumatic event that can lead to PTSD.
One study by researchers at Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates and the University of Plymouth in the United Kingdom examined PTSD symptoms among 94 people who have experienced anaphylaxis.
As well as PTSD, the people in this study said that they experienced other physical problems, in addition to anxiety, social problems, and depression, at a higher rate than people who hadn’t experienced anaphylactic shock did.
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What Is A Panic Attack
A panic attack is a brief episode of intense anxiety, which causes the physical sensations of fear. These can include a racing heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness, trembling and muscle tension. Panic attacks occur frequently and unexpectedly and are often not related to any external threat. A panic attack can last from a few minutes to half an hour. However, the physical and emotional effects of the attack may last for a few hours. Panic attacks are common. Up to 35% of the population experience a panic attack at some time in their lives. A panic attack can also be called an anxiety attack. Without treatment, frequent and prolonged panic attacks can be severely disabling. The person may choose to avoid a wide range of situations for fear of experiencing an attack.
The Link Between Allergies And Anxiety
Anxiety and increased allergies can be experienced as:
- An increase in allergy sensitivity, frequency, severity, and duration in conjunction with an increase in anxiety.
- You notice your allergy symptoms are much more severe and persistent when your stress and anxiety are elevated.
- You notice there is a link between your anxiety and allergies, allergy symptoms, sensitivities, and allergic reactions.
- You might also notice your allergic reactions take much longer to subside when your anxiety increases.
- You might have also noticed that as your anxiety increased, you developed new allergies and to things you werent previously allergic to.
Anxiety disorder increased allergies might come and go rarely, occur frequently, or persist indefinitely. For example, you might have episodes of allergy problems and flare-ups once and a while and not that often, have them off and on, or have an increase in allergies, allergic reactions, or allergy sensitivities all the time.
Anxiety allergy problems can precede, accompany, or follow an escalation of other anxiety sensations and symptoms, or occur by themselves.
Anxiety allergy problems can precede, accompany, or follow an episode of nervousness, anxiety, fear, and elevated stress, or occur “out of the blue” and for no apparent reason.
Anxiety and allergy problems can range in intensity from slight, to moderate, to severe. They can also come in waves where they are strong one moment and ease off the next.
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Address Your Fears And Anxiety Issues
There are many ways to alleviate worries and fears about allergies. Working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to address your anxiety issues, and especially those about allergies.
Take our free online anxiety test or anxiety disorder test to see if you have issues with anxiety. You can also read our our Can you have symptoms of anxiety without feeling anxious article for more information about how anxiety symptoms can occur when a person doesnt feel anxious.
Causes Of Panic Attack Symptoms
One of the first questions people ask is why something like anxiety can cause these types of symptoms. After all, it’s not the anxiety that makes panic attacks unbearable – it’s the very real, physical sensations that give the impression something is very wrong with your health.
Panic attacks are very complex, and not all of the causes are known. Some of the reasons for having a panic attack may be:
- Hyperventilation Hyperventilation is commonly associated with panic attacks. It may be caused by breathing too quickly, breathing too deeply, or breathing in a shallow manner.
- Major Stress Panic attacks are correlated with major stress, especially after a traumatic event such as a physical assault, divorce, death, or other stressful life event has occurred. Major stress is associated with increased heart rate, nausea, headache and more.
- Genetics A family history of panic attacks or panic disorder can often be found in those that suffer from panic disorder. Anxiety is a stressful experience and prolonged stress can cause cortisol levels to rise in the brain. When cortisol levels are elevated for long periods of time it can actually make changes to the brains chemistry. Some research has found that these changes can actually be passed down through genetics.
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