Anxiety in Allergy and Atopic Dermatitis

Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2006 Oct;6(5):335-9. doi: 10.1097/01.all.0000244793.03239.40.


Purpose of review: Individuals suffering from allergies often exhibit a specific psychological profile characterized by anxiety, depression and emotional excitability. Emotional stress precipitates allergic symptoms not only by heightening anxiety levels but also by dysregulating immune-cell functions. The primary objective of this report is to review recent findings of the relationship between anxiety and hypersensitivity responses in the context of psychoneuroimmunology in allergic individuals, notably patients with atopic dermatitis.

Recent findings: Atopic subjects with emotional problems develop a vicious cycle between anxiety and clinical symptoms. Acute stresses, which repeatedly and chronically affect patients with atopic dermatitis, raise anxiety in general more preferentially than anxiety at present. This psychological failure enhances Th2-type responses due to dysregulation of the neuroimmune system, leading to worsening of allergic symptoms. Tandospirone, a 5-hydroxytryptamine 1A receptor agonist with anxiolytic and antidepressant effects, attenuates itching through successful control of emotional difficulties. These data suggest the efficacy of administrating drugs with anxiolytic effects as part of the management strategy of stress-associated itching in patients with atopic dermatitis.

Summary: Psychological interventions such as periodic monitoring of anxiety levels in the context of immune functions and skin conditions are fundamental in therapy of allergic patients with emotional problems.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety*
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / immunology
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Hypersensitivity / psychology*
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / immunology
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / psychology*
  • Psychoneuroimmunology