Allergies, asthma, and psychopathology in a nationally-representative US sample

J Affect Disord. 2019 May 15;251:130-135. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2019.03.026. Epub 2019 Mar 6.


Background: Symptoms of depressed mood and anxiety have been associated with immune dysregulation and atopic disorders, however it is unclear whether this relationship spans other forms of psychopathology. The objective of this study was to use a large, population-based sample to examine the association between several common psychiatric conditions and two atopic disorders: seasonal allergies and asthma. This study also examined whether comorbidity between psychiatric disorders confounded the relationship between atopy and each psychiatric disorder.

Methods: Data come from the Comprehensive Psychiatric Epidemiology Surveys, a nationally-representative sample of US adults (N = 10,309). Lifetime history of major depressive disorder (MDD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder (PD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was assessed using the Composite International Diagnostic Inventory. History of seasonal allergies and asthma were assessed by self-report. Weighted logistic regression was used to evaluate the association between allergies and asthma and psychopathology. Psychiatric comorbidities were also examined as potential confounders.

Results: Approximately 36.6% had a history of allergies and 11.5% a history of asthma. Seasonal allergies were positively associated with odds of MDD (Odds ratio (OR): 1.24, 95% Confidence Interval (CI): 1.06-1.46), GAD (OR: 1.54 (1.28-1.84)), PD (OR: 1.54 (1.24-1.91)), and PTSD (OR: 1.32 (1.09-1.59)). Asthma was not significantly associated with any psychiatric disorder. All significant associations persisted after adjustment for psychiatric comorbidities.

Limitations: Limitations include self-reporting of atopic disorder status and of all disorder ages of onset.

Conclusions: This study confirms the association between MDD and PD and seasonal allergies, and extends this relationship to GAD and PTSD.

Keywords: Allergies; Anxiety; Atopic; Depression; PTSD; Panic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Panic Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Panic Disorder / psychology
  • Psychopathology
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal / epidemiology*
  • Self Report
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult