Anxiety sensitivity and depression in multiple chemical sensitivities and asthma

J Occup Environ Med. 2002 Oct;44(10):890-901. doi: 10.1097/00043764-200210000-00006.


Patients with sensitivities to multiple chemicals report symptoms of cognitive dysfunction, respiratory distress, and mood disturbance. Lifetime and current psychiatric disorders, personality traits associated with symptom reporting, and tests of cognitive function were compared between 30 subjects with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS), 19 asthmatics, and 31 healthy controls. Relative to asthmatics and controls, more MCS subjects met criteria for current depression and somatization disorder. MCS subjects and asthmatics scored significantly higher than controls on scales of chemical odor intolerance and anxiety sensitivity, both of which were significant predictors of physical symptoms. Few differences on objective neuropsychological tests were noted. However, MCS subjects with comorbid depression performed significantly worse on a verbal memory test relative to asthmatics but not to controls. Anxiety and depression are significant contributors to the physical and cognitive symptoms of MCS subjects.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Asthma / diagnosis
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Asthma / psychology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cohort Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivity / diagnosis
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivity / epidemiology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Probability
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Reference Values
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Somatoform Disorders / diagnosis
  • Somatoform Disorders / epidemiology*