It may not be an obvious connection, yet seasonal allergies can significantly worsen existing anxiety and depression. While depression and other mental illness have a root cause of inflammation - therefore reducing sources of inflammation makes sense - the link between seasonal allergies and anxiety and depression is more defined than their common association with inflammation.
There is significant research looking at how and why seasonal allergies worsen mood disorders, and so far it seems to do with histamine, a mediator of the inflammatory response in allergies. Histamine is also a neurotransmitter, and its actions are widespread throughout the brain.
If you or someone you care for experience anxiety and depression as well as seasonal allergies, this is important information. By knowing that seasonal allergies may be a trigger, you can expect it (see www.pollen.com) and be prepared with strategies. Strategies might include setting an appointment with your psychotherapist, brushing-up your mindfulness routines, overall re-establishing your routines of self-care. Additionally, one of your strategies might be doing what you can to manage these seasonal allergies.
A few common sense approaches can help.
1. REDUCE YOUR EXPOSURE:
If you can minimize exposure to the substances you are allergic to, then you can minimize symptoms, including your histamine levels. Allergy sufferers should consider these household strategies:
o IN THE BEDROOM:
Keep windows closed
Keep bedroom especially clean & door closed
Do not allow pets in room
Use a HEPA air filter in the bedroom
o Frequent damp dusting throughout the house & vacuuming with a vacuum that uses a HEPA filter
o Keep windows closed during high pollen times
o Use the highest filtration HVAC filter
o Bathe (including washing hair) before bed
o Remove shoes when entering home
o Plan outdoor/exercise time around high pollen predictions. Check www.pollen.com.
o Change clothes and wash face immediately after outdoor exercise or activity
o Nasal irrigation with a neti pot (or other method) helps to wash away dust and pollen that have accumulated in your sinuses throughout the day, reducing symptoms of allergic rhinitis, the stuffed up nose that comes with many allergies.
2. MINIMIZE OTHER SOURCES OF INFLAMMATION
o Eliminate known food allergies or sensitivities
o Eliminate sugar & dairy during the allergy season, as these are the two most common inflammatory foods.
3. SUPPLEMENT PROTOCOLS to moderate the immune system and reduce inflammation can be helpful as well. Some common supplements I use with my patients include:
o Probiotics - Some unhealthy microbes in your gut can produce histamine. Support healthy diversity in your gut microbiome.
o Vitamin C
o Stinging nettles
o Fish oil
Over the counter medications may help but are notorious for not working as well as advertised and leave many people feeling groggy.
Let’s discuss obstacles. I realize that the above “common sense” approaches can be daunting. You may be thinking:
o Keep the house dusted and vacuumed all the time?! How is that possible?
Consider investing in some domestic household help, assign some chores to the kids, babysitter or nanny, recruit support from your partner, and if all else fails, let it go. Focus on the bedroom and control what you are able to control yourself. Manage the exposure with a targeted supplement protocol.
o Eliminate foods that I love to eat?
If you are eating a diet that creates inflammation in you, you are not only worsening your allergies, you are worsening your mental and overall health. Even so, right now I am only suggesting these things during your allergy season. This is not forever. You need to eat and I want you to enjoy your food. But I also want to empower you with information that allows you to make informed decisions. You have choices. The decisions are yours. This season you may decide an anti-inflammatory supplement protocol is all you are up for. But seasons change and you are informed. You may choose something different next season. And that is OK too.
For a more individualized and detailed treatment plan, set an appointment and we can discuss your struggles in person: 720-340-0193
By Meghan Van Vleet, ND, RND