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The Dark Side of Spring

Friday, 25 April 2014 04:48  by Emily S.

Fragrant flowers, busy bees and sunny days entice us to get outside and enjoy the outdoors. However, the abundant pollen from blooming flowers prompts severe itchy eyes, runny nose and frequent sneezing, making springtime a miserable arrival for nearly 36 million Americans with seasonal allergies.

Women suffering from severe allergies are twice as likely to experience depression and anxiety as women who do not have allergies. Lack of sleep caused by allergy symptoms trigger mood changes and overwhelming stress. Allergies reduce the presence of the mood-boosting hormone serotonin, and cause the body to release cytokines, a compound that increases inflammation. These factors may play a role in the increased number of suicides each spring.

Here are 5 easy ways to reduce depression and anxiety caused by severe allergy symptoms:

  • Avoid unhealthy coping habits: Seeking relief through temporary and unhealthy outlets such as smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, can cause inflammation and worsen allergies. Yeast and bacteria present in alcohol produce histamines that cause allergy symptoms. Cigarette smoke pollutes the air and can increase nasal allergies and trigger asthma.
  • Eat right: Avoiding foods is just as important as adding them. Avoiding bananas, melon, sunflower seeds and chamomile can minimize weed pollen allergies. Foods with omega-3 fatty acids and a high-nutrient diet protect against seasonal allergies.
  • Natural remedies: Vitamins, minerals and herbs can fight a runny nose and itchy eyes better than manufactured drugs. Vitamin C and quercetin, found in apples, are antihistamines that may offer relief from allergens. Butterbur is an herb that’s been reported to be four times as effective as any over the counter drug. Acupuncture is a natural practice of medicine that can stimulate allergy relief.
  • Start Medicine Early: If you know that you have seasonal allergies, take medicines sooner rather than later. The earlier you start taking them the more time if has in your system and can help you avoid symptoms altogether.
  • Sleep Hygiene: Sleep is a major part of overall mental health, and sleep deprivation can lead to serious mood changes, fatigue and depression. Washing the sheets once a week and using a bedroom dehumidifier may help reduce allergens. Not allowing pets in the bed will decrease the prevalence of pollen, dust mites and mold.

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