Your Asthma and Allergies Aren’t Causing Mental Illness
31
August

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , /


[ INTRO ] Earlier this week, you might’ve noticed
headlines about how having asthma or hay fever can increase your risk of developing a mental
illness. But you don’t have to worry and run off
to your doctor. These headlines are reporting on a study published
this week in the journal Frontiers in Psychology. And if you take a closer look at that paper,
the results aren’t as clear — or dramatic — as they might seem. Your body is one giant interconnected system,
so it makes sense that some diseases might be related or have the same root cause. Researchers have spent a lot of time looking
into this idea, especially when it comes to psychiatric disorders and allergies. Allergies are when your immune system overreacts
to something harmless, like animal dander, and treats it like a threatening invader. And some studies have suggested that the stress
or inflammation from how our bodies fight allergens could throw off brain chemistry. Admittedly, the research is ongoing, and a
lot of things are up for debate. But if it’s true, and if we understood how
that connection worked, we could maybe prevent some mental illnesses. So far, studies have mostly focused on links
between specific conditions — like schizophrenia and being allergic to things like pollen. What’s special about this new paper is that
it looked at the likelihood of someone with certain allergies developing any psychiatric
disorder. Specifically, this team looked at patients
who had three of the most common allergic diseases: asthma; allergic rhinitis, which
is sometimes called hay fever; and atopic dermatitis, which is a kind of eczema. Using a national database from Taiwan, the
team collected 15 years of health data from over 180,000 patients. Almost 47,000 had these allergic diseases,
and around 140,000 didn’t. Then, the team calculated how many people
with allergies were /also/ diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder over that decade and
a half — something like anxiety or depression. And the results were kind of surprising. They found that almost 11% of those with allergies
developed some kind of psychiatric disorder, while only about 7% of the control group did. In general, that meant the people with allergies
were statistically about 1.66 times more likely to develop a mental illness over that 15 years. Now, just because these data suggest that
these conditions might be related doesn’t mean that one causes the other, or that they
definitely come as a pair. For instance, the team also found that those
who just had eczema, or who had hay fever and eczema together, actually had a lower
risk of developing psychiatric disorders than the control group. Also, the data from this study came from only
one population, so it might not be representative of everyone. Besides, a risk factor of 1.66 really isn’t
that high, especially if you compare it to the risks associated with things like genetics. So it’s not actually that alarming. Not to mention, scientists still have to figure
out the mechanisms that could link allergies to mental illnesses — which this study didn’t
look at. So if you get sniffly in the springtime, don’t
worry about your health any more than you normally would. On a much smaller scale, a team of researchers
announced on Monday in the journal Nature Chemistry that they’ve found a new form
of DNA hiding in your cells! It’s called an i-motif. And it’s not, like, changing how we think
about humans as a species or anything. But it can help us understand how our DNA
gets processed in our cells. When you think of DNA, you probably think
of the textbook double-helix structure, which was discovered in the 1950s. But for a while, scientists have known that
strands of DNA come in at least a couple other shapes. Instead of looking like a twisted ladder,
the i-motif looks like one strand of DNA got tangled in a knot. To make that happen, DNA’s building blocks
— called nucleotides — pair together in a weird way. Normally, cytosine bases always pair up with
guanine. But in the i-motif form, cytosine pairs with
other cytosines. I-motifs form in parts of DNA that are cytosine-rich. Part of one DNA strand folds over itself and
gets bunched up, so the other strand is alone. It kind of looks like one side of a zipper
got twisted into a knot. This happens because one of the cytosines
gets an extra proton from its environment and becomes slightly positively charged, while
the other stays neutral. So they can bind. Researchers had observed the i-motif structure
before in test tubes, but now, we’ve seen it in a few kinds of living human cells! Like epithelial cells, which do things like
line your organs. To track down this elusive DNA, the team designed
a new antibody fragment from pre-existing molecules. Antibodies are proteins your immune system
uses to track down invaders, so they’re really good at binding to specific substances. This one was made to cling to i-motif’s
funny structure, and to glow under certain lights so the scientists could know where
it was. And it worked like a charm! After tracking the i-motifs for a bit, the
team also realized why they might’ve been hard to find: these structures don’t exist
all the time. Mainly, i-motifs form during the G1 phase
of the cell cycle, when DNA is being read by other molecules to make proteins and get
ready for cell division. Once that phase is over, most i-motifs seem
to go away. Although it’s not clear if the DNA changes
shape by itself, or if another molecule helps untangle it. Either way, this suggests that i-motifs are
mainly involved in helping dividing cells express certain genes and make certain proteins. So even though it’s been over 50 years since
we first discovered the main structure of DNA, we’ve still got so much to learn about
it. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow! We’re able to bring you new science news
every week thanks to support from our Patreon patrons, like Matthew Brant, our president
of space! If you’d like to be president of space,
submit questions for us to answer, or join us in our monthly hangout, you can go to patreon.com/scishow. [ OUTRO ]


100 thoughts on “Your Asthma and Allergies Aren’t Causing Mental Illness

  1. I was suicidal when I was 7 (without abuse) and I didn't develop seasonal allergies until I was in my mid 20's.

    I was a depressed kid cause my brain chemistry was off, later in life I developed hay fever… Fckimg morons. I love pickles too. How many people love pickles develop mental illness?

  2. Interesting fact, I don't realize I'm having a severe allergic rhinitis problems or an asthma attack until I realize a sudden mood shift. Usually I'm a calm logical person- things don't bother me. A couple years ago id when allergic asthma began showing severe signs, before simple allegies we're resolved with over the counter drugs during spring/summer, but suddenly I could barely get out of bed. I thought the negative emotions we're from being bedridden (also, my primary doctor refused to help took years to get diagnosed) but after being on long term medication I've gotten back to being calm and collected. However, those negative thoughts and feelings of anxiety (which is something I had never felt before being bedridden) come back when I'm having more severe symptoms. Its actually a really good panic alarm that my body gives me cause if I don't take care of the symptoms I end up with a really bad migraine.

  3. I know most questions are asked on patreon but I have one question: do zodiac signs actually mean anything?

  4. my friend takes an anti-anxiety medicine that she says also works for allergies, but I don't know how true that is

  5. The i-motifs part was so interesting! Why did you mix it with an unreliable research about allergies… It deserves a video on its own!!!

  6. Hank's voice audio sounds slightly muffled, like as though the microphone he was using was under a shirt or something. I don't like it.

  7. Here’s a question, does working out cause aging at a faster rate? If aging is due to DNA replicating. And the ends of the chromosomes are there as a safety in case the ends get cut off. And if working out kill/break down muscle causing your body to regenerate those cells, does that mean working out increases the rate of aging.

  8. People who are depressed will have a worse perception of their health and are more likely not to tolerate minor rhinitis.

  9. My cousin was diagnosed bipolar and was treated as such for years as a teen — until she had allergy therapy. Then her bipolar symptoms went away. She was never bipolar in the first place. It was severe symptoms of allergies to cleaning chemicals and numerous foods causing severe mood swings and manic/depressive episodes.

  10. Maybe the other way around. My mental illness started when I was around 11 and my asthma at 22… maybe the stress from the mental illness caused my immune system go all crazy. Your mind effects more than just your mood..

  11. i-motifs: good example that evidence can be found for everything if you just look hard enough (and don´t want 2 years worth of sciencing be for nothing)

  12. So the people who went to the doctor to get their allergies diagnosed (which not everyone does) also went to the doctor to get their mental illness diagnosed (which definitely not everyone does).

  13. I have 2 questions:
    – Do people who have allergies (pollen), have stronger immune system?
    – And do people who have allergies have lower risk of cancer (because of stronger immune system)?

  14. Hello, I want to know why do trees have fruits. I mean what is their benefit to the trees. Is it to make sure that the seeds get carried arround by animals and spread further away?

  15. Well if we want to go into anecdotal evidence and/or speculation (🙈), strong allergies, and sometimes antihistamines as well, can make you really really tired, which … definitely pulled me down when I had it. That said, I'm not surprised that the actual risk factor isn't thaaat high

  16. The connection between mental illnnes and allergy can be even more anticlimatic. From my own experience I know that the more stressed I feel the more symptoms get unbearable. I need to scratch my eyes because of itching that I would normally ignore. Because of the eye irritayion I get runny nose. When I get calmed my allergy 'disappear'. If not for the fact that I have the symptoms only at Spring and medical tests confirmed thet I am in fact allergic, I would think that this is only my delusion caused by stress. Scratcing and rubbing are compulsive bevaviors that people have even without Allergy. However stress makes it more difficult to ignore the itch and, in the end, makes people worsen the symptoms

    People who were diagnosed with allergy were those whose symptoms had been to unbearable to left it without treatment (people won't go on long term therapy to get rid of mild itching around eyes lasting couple weeks every year). Among those there were people who, despite themself, made them worse due the stress they had been under. I think it is safe so say that he allergics who already had been acting in almost autodestructive manner (makeing their allergy worse) because of their unability to deal with emotional tension in more healthy way were more likely to develop anxiety and depression. The correlation tampers a little bit the results of the research. It wouldn't matter that much if the connection was stronger

    When I was younger I always had crusts on my face. It wasn't because I had a skin disease, they didn't even itch. The reason why I had them was because everytime I was tired or stressed I would scratch them. For the simple, compulsive bevavior the crusts that would heal after couple days lasted month or more. I was afraid at the time of what would happen if I really got a skin disease. Who knows, maybe if there was a research that would search for connection between skin diseases among young children and anxiety in their adult life they would find some connection?

    Now the only thing that left is waiting for the scientists to find out what is the real reason for the connection between mental illness and allergy. I am pretty excited about it. It's quite interesting topic

  17. Maybe the causality is the other way around (which is far more likely). People who are mentally ill will blame others and things for their problems. And if you start looking for problems you’ll find some, like allergies.

  18. No, but they can certainly cause mental distress. Which like all stressors, may exacerbate underlying mental health problems.

  19. Having 2 of 3 allergy diseases had a lower chance of developing mental illness, for once my asthma and hay fever are useful lol!

  20. I mean, I could have told you that's not a big deal. I have asthma, and in the past at least was allergic to almost everything under the sun. I had to get allergy shots for years so that all the grasses and trees didnt make me so miserable I wanted to run from my favorite time of year. If, you know, I could have ignored the asthma and run… I also outgrew food allergies, relatively soon after we found out I had them. And my mental state is fine. In fact according tests I've taken for that kind of thing I'm more than fine.

  21. I think a lot of people are missing the point including this channel, no one at least anyone of repute is going to claim that allergies cause all mental illnesses much less all mental illnesses will be cured if allergens are removed, the importance is that there are environmental triggers for these symptoms in people, each individual case varies, and just because most people with allergies do not become mentally ill it is still important to others who will benefit from this information and future treatment options.

    Mental illness is not a singular disease but a range of conditions caused by many different factors, and no one reasonable should expect these findings to help everyone. Studies showing links between allergies, autoimmune problems, other medical conditions linked with mental illness does not mean that every mentally illness is caused or triggered by the same thing, what it means is that symptoms may be managed by getting closer to the root of the underlying problems and that it will vary with each patient.

    So yeah sure, most people out there with seasonal allergies don't have to worry, but this important news for those that CAN benefit from that knowledge and may have their mental health benefit in the long run.

  22. I think it's kind of critical to conclude from that statistic correlation to causation as news pages want it to seem like.

    Having Asthma and those allergies, I would say that they do influence my behavior in ways that could also influence development/graveness of certain mental illnesses (especially if already inclined to them by other factors).
    I don't go out much in spring if I can avoid it, since I don't feel like having trouble breathing in the evening and feeling unreasonably exhausted. I've never really enjoyed most sports as a kid and now it's definitely not part of my life. With sports and outdoor activities often being something people use to balance and release emotional stress, that may very well be a factor for some.
    One can feel self-conscious about exzemas (for me it's just a valid excuse not to shave my legs).
    And having to sometimes rely on medications to be able to breathe well already in early childhood, is probably also not the best in maybe developing anxiety issues. (Troubled breathing can be highly stressful)

    So it would be highly interesting to see more of these studies and also how other chronic illnesses can affect the development of mental illnesses. Maybe that could increase prevention or early treatment in some cases.

  23. I think improper treatment and management of asthma and allergies could make mental illness worse, because on top of walking around with symptoms similar to a cold, both make it difficult to breathe, particularly outside when exercising, two things that are said to help anxiety and depression symptoms

  24. Oh gosh, the reporting on that study is misleading. A more meaningful study might look at how medical conditions and their treatment protocols might lead to mental conditions. I am bipolar (rapid cycling with depression) but my husband was very healthy mentally. Then a case of c-diff, the complications and treatment left him clinically depressed for a year and that seems to have pre-disposed him to depression brought on by physical illnesses much more ‘easily’ than he had been before a year of illness that had him drop 70lbs and left him more vulnerable to digestive illnesses (like stomach flu and food poisoning etc). I do think there is a link between physical illnesses and mental health but the connection is more complicated than slight genetic leanings.

  25. Maybe it's just that people being treated for one thing are more likely diagnosed with something else because they visit a doctor more often. Mild cases of allergies or mental disorders often ignored (because why would you visit a doctor for that). But if you go to a doctor for treatment of a mental illness for example, a mild case of allergy might be diagnosed now, because it will come up when talking about health.

  26. I'm allergic to life in general, but no signs of mental illness–even after 69 years of living and 45 years with problems. Who in the hell would think this?! I've taken script meds in the past, but no meds now. I bet somebody will try to get us to believe that socks cause blindness! Laughable!

  27. It could also be that people who go in to the doctors for allergies are more likely to go in to the doctor for treating other conditions like mental illness.

  28. when did this become a thing? No one thinks that asthma or allegeries cause mental issues… It's like doing a video on why mustard doesn't cause cancer. Of course it doesn't cause cancer!

  29. A possible confound stems from using the rate of diagnosis as the measure of mental illness – mental illness is notoriously underdiagnosed. (Caveat: I know nothing about Taiwanese stigmas surrounding mental illness in particular.) If people have severe enough allergies to need treatment, they likely see health professionals more often which could lead to a higher chance of mental illness being recognized.

    Also, some allergies create mental illness-like symptoms such as brain fog. If an allergy causes mental symptoms isn't it splitting hairs to say that the allergy is not a mental illness?

  30. I wonder if the asthma could be creating environmental factors that make people who are prone to anxiety or depression more likely to develop it. Someone might have a problem but still function on their own, but if they're constantly having to worry about being suddenly unable to breathe, they'd have more trouble coping and be more likely to see a doctor and get diagnosed.

  31. Perhaps having asthma causes anxiety… simply because it’s asthma… which can be stressful.

    Maybe people who have asthma are around doctors more ofter so the get diagnosed more often.

  32. I have spring time allergies… and fall allergies as well. I'm sneezing and got a stuffy nose all year around, except for that one or two month of winter where everything is frozen solid… in those months I catch colds and sinusitis, so it ain't any better.

  33. They should just talked to me about allergy related mental illness. I have no allergies, but I have anxiety, depression, PTSD, and ADHD.

  34. Who do i believe, scientists who devoted their live to work over 15 years, or 1 random guy from a media platform such as youtube.

  35. How 'bout this: pollen allergies, the ones I suffer from, make you TIRED. I think that has a LOT to do with the appearance of a mental dysfunction.

  36. Probably, people with very annoying allergies have already been to an allergist and therefore are more likely to seek professional help for mental issues -than those people with no allergies.

  37. Or the allergic people were more paranoid about health in general and more likely to go to a psychiatrist than healthy people.

  38. Imagine that. Having an annoying reaction to something makes humans act a little crazy. Who would have guessed it?

  39. Wish people would apply this level of critical thinking to claims about vaccinations increasing the risk of autism and circumcision reducing the risk of STIs and other maladies.

  40. Possible mechanism:

    Allergy could make you uncomfortable all the time. Being uncomfortable all the time makes you sad all the time. Then being sad all the time makes you depressed.

  41. "worked like a charm" which, by scientific consensus doesn't work. I think it's time we stopped using language about fantastical constructs to talk about scientific achievements. It seems that they are often invoked when speaking about something you can't see, but needs to be imagined. I don't ever remember someone talking about a bridge or a building in these terms. Thoughts?

  42. Wow, allergies themselves causing mental illness is about the dumbest thing I've ever heard as a man with multiple diagnoses of different mental health "conditions" and no actual allergies to speak of. The closest this comes to being actual science is how allergies may cause stress which over time takes the form of almost all mental illnesses we know of today, in some form or fashion. My apologies for the run on sentence.

  43. I have asthma and lots of other allergies and I also have depression and really bad anxiety so this doesnt surprise me at all

  44. 3:09 Yes, it does … because that proves that the second coming was already … and Steve Jobs our creator went back to heaven without anyone …
    List of things Jobs done:
    iMac
    iPod
    iPhone
    i-motif

    … man I really had to make this joke.

  45. If we can build an anitbody fom scratch, then maybe we could take the antibody and the bacteria/fungi/virus and make a vaccine out of it. It basically cuts the injection process all together if it's done a certain way.

  46. I'm glad you had the integrity not to title this "Are Your Asthma and Allergies Causing Mental Illness?"

  47. When I am struggling to breathe, it triggers a panic attack and I have to take a xanax to calm down😥

  48. How it might lead to a mental illness could be explained by underlying mechanism,
    Think of allergy as if it is a chronic pain, it can cause stress, stress can lead to anxiety and depression plus the medications used to treat allergies are somewhat related to antipsychotics and antidepressents and even benzos, in terms of their side effects and slight resemblance in mechanism of action

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