Mental health problems associated with idiopathic anaphylaxis

Allergy Asthma Clin Immunol. 2023 Sep 13;19(1):84. doi: 10.1186/s13223-023-00824-0.


Background: Idiopathic Anaphylaxis (IA) is the most common anaphylactic syndrome in adults. Mental health problems associated with IA are not well recognised. We aimed to assess if patients diagnosed with IA were more likely to experience mental health problems compared to a normative Australian population. We additionally hypothesised that the number of anaphylactic episodes would correlate with symptoms of anxiety.

Methods: A total of 34 patients with at least one episode of IA were recruited from an adult immunology clinic. Patients were recruited as part of a separate study evaluating alternative aetiologies in IA. Mental health problems were measured using the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS-21). An extension of the survey included questions specifically focused on the psychological impact of IA.

Results: Compared to population norms, those with IA had significantly higher levels of mental health problems. Statistically significant DASS-21 scores were identified for depression 4.24 vs. 2.57 (p < 0.001), anxiety 4.76 vs. 1.74 (p < 0.012), stress 7.35 vs. 3.95 (p < 0.001) and total score 16.35 vs. 8.00 (p < 0.001). There was no association between two or more episodes of anaphylaxis and increased anxiety levels (β = 0.52, CI -2.59-3.62, p = 0.74).

Conclusions: This is the first paper to demonstrate that patients living with idiopathic anaphylaxis are more symptomatic for mental illness than those in the community. Screening for mental illness and referral for psychological support should be undertaken in people with IA.

Keywords: Allergies; Anxiety; Depression; Idiopathic anaphylaxis; Psychiatry; Stress.