Some food items can trigger severe allergic reactions and experts have classified more than 170 edibles that do so. Food allergies are common among American children. This is evident from numbers shared by the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), revealing that nearly 8 percent children suffer from food allergies in any given year. The AAAAI data also shows that in 2012, more than 4 million children had exhibited symptoms of being allergic to one or the other food items.
Not much information is available as to how food allergies can trigger bouts of anxiety in children. However, a team of researchers recently tried to examine the association between food allergy and childhood anxiety/depression among a group of minor children belonging to the lower socio-economic strata. For the study titled “Food allergy and anxiety and depression among ethnic minority children and their caregivers,” the researchers observed 80 pediatric patients aged between four and 12 years. They obtained details of the participants and their caregivers who had visited pediatric outpatient clinics in the Bronx, New York. Not all participants, averaged eight-years-old, were afflicted with food allergy. The study was recently published online in the Journal of Pediatrics.
Food allergy and anxiety
The researchers tested the children for manifestations of asthmatic disorder such as anxiousness and mood disorder problems which are more frequent in youth diagnosed with asthma, and especially more prevalent among children belonging to the lower socio-economic background. The researchers found that among children with food allergy problems, 57 percent confirmed being affected from anxiety signs compared to 48 percent of the participants living without a food allergy. Also, about 48 percent of the children reported depressive symptoms with or without a food allergy.
Elucidating on the observations, study’s lead author Dr. Renee D. Goodwin from the Department of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health said, “Management of food allergy can be expensive both in terms of food shopping, meal preparation, and the cost of epinephrine auto-injectors, which expire annually.”
Based on the observations, the researchers suggested that food allergy is largely associated with a heightened form of social anxiety coupled with dreaded feelings of social rejection and loss of dignity. Goodwin stressed on possible myriad factors responsible for the association between detection of food allergy and worsening of social anxiety problems in pediatric patients.
While the researchers argued about possible links between food allergy and anxiety in children, they could not explain the onset of depression during their growing up years. The authors proposed the relatively young age of the respondents and the average age of onset for depression being later than that of anxiety being responsible for the absence of depression in the pediatric patients. One of the co-authors of the study, Dr. Jonathan M. Feldman, said, “It would be worthwhile to examine these relationships among older adolescents and young adults with food allergy who are at the peak of risk for depression onset, especially because early anxiety is associated with increased risk for subsequent onset of depression.”
Road to recovery
The study findings cannot be ignored considering the increasing prevalence of food allergy among children these days. Owing to the association between food allergy and social anxiety, it is necessary that mental health care practitioners are informed about it. Notably, mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression can be treated with timely medical intervention.
As a leading mental health care provider, Sovereign Health understands the plight of someone suffering from anxiety or any other psychiatric disorder. Call our 24/7 helpline number 866-973-7164 to know about our anxiety disorders treatment centers in California and other parts of the U.S. You can also chat online with one of our representatives to know about comprehensive anxiety disorder treatment offered at our facilities in California.