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MINDful Minute: Allergies Take a Toll on Your Mental Health

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If you're feeling off your mental game, it might be your allergies

By Lindsey Paoli @lindsey_paoli

Meet therapist, coach and founder of Fundamental Health Lindsey Paoli, MFT-Intern.

Have you been feeling off the last couple of weeks?  Here in the Valley we’ve been experiencing high winds, warmer weather, and a noticeable light-yellow dusting everywhere. Yep, it’s officially allergy season, so you may be experiencing itchy watery eyes, inflamed skin, a runny nose—and it may sound far fetched, but if you have been feeling like your seasonal allergies are throwing you off your top mental game, you aren’t wrong! 

It’s Not You, It’s Your Allergies

Studies are beginning to show a very clear correlation between seasonal allergies and mental health.  Those who suffer from seasonal allergies are 1.66 times more likely to also suffer from psychiatric disorders.  A history of seasonal allergies is associated with greater risk for mood disorders, anxiety disorders, depression, and even eating disorders. 

One pediatric allergist from UCLA even suggests that allergy symptoms can increase focus issues for those diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) or be severe enough to warrant a misdiagnosis of ADHD or a learning disability for students who are unable to focus due to their discomfort and the sleep disruption resulting from stuffy noses and mouth breathing at night. 

Inflammation Stresses Out the Body

There is so much to talk about in terms of the importance of optimized breathing and mental health/ cognition that we will save it for a future column.  But in addition to the disrupted breathing that allergies cause, more and more studies are showing that inflammation is a large huge contributor to mental decline and illness. Inflammation is a chemical response to stress that the body generates as a form of self-protection, and is absolutely present as a response to seasonal allergies – just think of the red and swollen irritation in your nose, throat, and eyes as you battle this dust.  

Tips For Your Mental Health Amid Allergy Season

Some recommendations to survive this allergy season and work to preserve your mental health: 

• Your body needs extra rest to fight off infection.  As you notice fatigue, set aside additional time to rest with naps throughout the day and proper sleep hygiene at night.

• Because optimized breathing has such an impact on mental health (remember the Box Breathing we practiced a few weeks ago?) take antihistamines and flush your nasal passages with saline as needed to maintain healthy airways.

Turmeric contains a natural anti-inflammatory; use it liberally to spice your food during allergy season or look for high quality supplements to take daily.

Read: MINDful Minute: The Six Stages of the Change Cycle

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