What would you do if after 50 years of being told you have a “chemical imbalance” and depression, you found severe allergies were at the root of your problems – not mental illness?
RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB “SPOTLIGHT” Author Sherilyn Powers explores the connection between allergies and depression in her book, I’m Not Crazy… I’m Allergic.
Allergies, inflammation and depression
One of the main things I learned while researching my book, I’m Not Crazy… I’m Allergic, is that allergic reactions cause inflammation or swelling. It can be quite noticeable in the hands and feet/ankles, but elsewhere inflammation is harder to detect. But when you are experiencing a food or environmental reaction to allergies or sensitivities, where does that inflammation show up in your body?
Everywhere, and not just from the neck down.
This means there can be inflammation in the brain as well. Symptoms of severe swelling of the brain include everything from headaches to seizures and loss of memory, vision and more. Mostly we think of these in terms of head trauma. However, any type of inflammation on the brain can create problems.
Those extreme reactions aren’t necessarily going to be the case in allergies or sensitivities, but exactly how much swelling does it take to create some of these issues, even to a lesser degree?
People are not exact science. We all have our own idiosyncrasies. What one person can handle with no visible issues, completely overwhelms others. So the answer is – no one knows exactly.
Another thing that is now being recognized by the medical community is that inflammation has a very strong correlation to depression. One of the examples used by Maria Almond, MD, MPH in her article Depression and inflammation: Examining the link is how there is a difference between the symptoms of a cold and what actually keeps you in bed when you have a cold ie. “the accompanying fatigue, inattentiveness, loss of appetite, change in sleep pattern, heightened perception of pain, and apathetic withdrawal” or as she terms it “sickness behavior”. This “sickness behavior” is extremely similar to depression and “depression frequently is comorbid with many inflammatory illnesses”.
Would it not be the same with an allergic reaction that includes generalized swelling? I am willing to guarantee that people having an anaphylactic reaction (which includes extreme swelling, particularly of the airway) will be anything but on top of the world emotionally or physically. If you asked, I’m sure they would be quite emotional, panicked, and even after the epinephrine calmed their physical reaction, they would still not feel all that great emotionally.
What about allergies or sensitivities that people go through for weeks at a time from exposure to pollens or mould? Would this not create “sickness behavior” as well, or depression?
Imagine having a severe cold or pneumonia for a long time, your mood would probably not be the greatest – and that is knowing what was wrong with you.
How about an unknown food allergy that you have had for say, over forty or fifty years? Constantly feeling like you should be in bed or at least not having any energy to do the daily life tasks… and not knowing when, if ever, you would feel better. How depressing would that be?
Looking at it this way, it is easy to see how some people could easily be misdiagnosed with “just” depression when it could be something physical, not mental or emotional at all.
http://www.currentpsychiatry.com/home/article/depression-and-inflammation-examining-the-link/b436332438ceca4baabe8be08701d6dc.html Depression and inflammation: Examining the link – Current Psychiatry 2013 June;12(6):24-32. Maria Almond, MD, MPH, Clinical Director PsychOncology Clinic. University of Michigan
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