Why Allergies Can Increase Suicide Risk
There may be times when you feel so overwhelmed by allergy symptoms that you simply can't tolerate them for another minute. But have you ever felt so desperate that you thought about suicide? The latest research shows that a small link exists between severe allergies and suicide. However, the experts stress that there's no need to panic, since the problem seems to be limited to some very specific circumstances.
Severe Allergies and Suicide
As extreme as it sounds, a study published in the Allergy journal in December 2010 reveals an overlap between suffering from severe allergies and committing suicide. This finding comes in the wake of earlier attention about how certain allergy medications can influence depression. However, the latest information now raises the question of whether it could be the allergies themselves, and not the medication, that's to blame.
Danish scientists looked at the health records of more than 27,000 suicide victims and found that the number who had been treated for serious allergy symptoms in the past was higher in this group than in others.
Yet while allergy and suicide risk seems to have some relationship, not all allergy sufferers are at risk. For instance, the researchers point out that the connection seems only to exist in patients with symptoms so severe that they were hospitalized for related complications, such as serious asthma/respiratory issues or sinus problems. The Danish researchers found that those with mild allergy symptoms that were treated in their doctor's office didn't have any higher suicide risk. In addition, they discovered that contrary to what you'd expect, patients with severe allergies who had been treated for some type of anxiety or depression disorder in the past also weren't at any increased suicide risk.
Exactly why severe allergies and suicide co-exist, and why it affects only people who meet this certain criteria, isn't quite clear. But one hypothesis is that during an allergy attack, the brain releases chemicals that create inflammation and in the process, also reduce the production of serotonin, which can cause a significant dip in mood.
Some people who take antidepressants may be able to offset this chemical reaction and in the process, avoid the suicide risk. More research needs to be conducted, though, to better understand the logistics.
What You Should Know
While the chances of your committing suicide because of suffering from severe allergies are slim, it's important to be aware of any warning signs and take them seriously. Therefore, if you have severe allergies and suddenly notice yourself grappling with thoughts of depression, worthlessness, or suicide, seek medical attention. You should talk to your doctor about your feelings and concerns and ask to be referred for a mental health screening.
In addition, if you can't wait to make an appointment for help, you should go to a local emergency room or crisis center for immediate assistance. Make sure to mention your allergy symptoms and give the names of any medications you're currently taking.
The good news is that there are many effective treatment methods available today to treat depression and suicidal feelings to help you feel better.
Qin, P., Mortensen, P. B., Waltoft, B. L. and Postolache, T. T. "Allergy is Associated with Suicide Completion with a Possible Mediating Role of Mood Disorder - a Population-Based Study." Allergy, no. doi: 10.1111/j:1398-9995. Dec. 2010. Web, 19 Jan. 2011.
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