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Spring Pollen and Mental Health

Before long, trees will begin blooming in the area and our spring allergy season will be underway. Up to 30% of adults have allergies. If you or someone you know are one of those people, you might be interested to know that spring allergies are correlated with a significant increase in mental health issues. Of particular concern is the increase in depression and suicide rates. Anxiety has also been shown to be increased in people with allergies during the spring pollen season. Some people have allergies primarily in the fall, due to ragweed, and there is a smaller spike in depression and suicide at that time, as well.

So what might explain this? Inflammation. The allergic response in the body release inflammatory processes. There is a body of evidence that supports the idea of depression as a disorder of brain inflammation. It makes sense, then, that when allergies flare and the body has increased inflammation the brain might also be affected and depression worsened. And more severe depression is likely to be accompanied with suicidal thoughts.

It’s important to note that it’s not just depressed (or anxious) people with allergies who are at higher risk of increased depression and suicidal thoughts or completed suicide. The risk factor is the allergies themselves and the inflammatory response that the body experiences as a result of the allergies. If you have spring allergies, keep an eye on the pollen counts. You may want to talk to your doctor about taking an anti-histamine before your start feeling symptoms. If you notice allergies are troubling you, keep an eye on your mood. If you notice you are experiencing depression or having thoughts of suicide, seek help immediately.

The allergy season varies by geographical area and growing zones but is generally over by June.

If you have been considering seeing a therapist, I am accepting new clients. Call or text me at (816) 226-4678.

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