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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 8:32 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2005 4:04 pm
Posts: 2044
Location: Gatineau, Quebec
I've started compiling links to articles, etc. about the psychological effects of allergies.

They're available at http://ottawaasg.com/OASG2006/modules.php?name=Web_Links&l_op=viewlink&cid=8, on my local support group's website.

If you have other related links to share, please let me know. I personally feel this is an area of allergies that is woefully under-researched and under-explored.

K.

_________________
Karen, proud Mom of
- DS1 (12 yrs): allergic to cashews, pistachios, Brazil nuts, potatoes, some legumes, some fish, pumpkin seeds; OAS
- DS2 (1o yrs): ana. to dairy, eggs, peanuts; asthma


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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 9:48 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6456
Location: Ottawa
Thank you! :)
I will look at this. I am very concerned about the psychological effects of allergies. I am concerned about the effects on individuals growing up in what might be seen as an unsafe environment, one where others don't see the dangers or minimize them.
I agrre that not enough has been done to look into this.

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Moderator
Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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PostPosted: Sat May 27, 2006 10:08 am 
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Joined: Sun Mar 05, 2006 1:05 pm
Posts: 528
Location: Burlington, Ontario
Thank you so much Karen! This is exactly the type of material I have been looking for, since we're so new at this and the psychological aspect doesn't seem to get covered by the medical community.

This is brilliant! This forum is fast becoming a "one stop shopping" as far as ressources are concerned. :wink:


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PostPosted: Sun May 28, 2006 12:07 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:53 pm
Posts: 1454
Location: Canada
Karen, What a great idea! I have an interest in this too. Here are a few articles from a slightly different angle (more on how stress affects allergies):

"The Relation of Stress and Family Environment to Atopic Dermatitis Symptoms in Children." by Karen M. Gil., Francis J. Keefe, Hugh A. Sampson (et al.) _Journal of Psychosomatic Research_. vol. 31 no. 6. pp 673-684. 1987.

There was a more recent article in the _Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology_ (Dec. 2005) entitled "Stress and Atopic Disorders" (by Rosalind J. Wright).

------------------

I was reading this really interesting book by Joseph Ledoux entitled _The Emotional Brain: The Mysterious Underpinnings of Emotional Life_ (New York: Touchstone, 1998)--but first published in 1996.

This is one of those very rare books that has an important impact on the researcher's field but is also fairly accessible to the general public. (Joseph Ledoux is a neuroscientist I think....in any case, he is a prof. somewhere in the States...New York I think. can't remember)

He doesn't address allergies specifically, but what he has to say about the role of adrenaline in memory got me thinking about the psychological effects of the use of adrenaline during a reaction.

Jim McGaugh (could have misspelled the name) at the University California (Irvine) did experiments involving adrenaline and his studies suggest that a) the natural release of adrenaline enhances memory (which I think they knew already) and b) blocking the effects of adrenaline would has the reverse effect.

Having an adrenaline rush while studying might not be such a bad thing. But it isn't so good when going through a traumatic reaction.

McGaugh suggests that it might be possible to prevent post traumatic stress disorder from developing by administering adrenaline-blocking drugs immediately after the event. (perhaps these drugs should be on hand for firefighters, police officers, soldiers, etc.) When I read that, I thought --but what about the effect of doing the opposite? What are the effects of administering adrenaline during a traumatic reaction? I know that after my worst reaction, I was majorly anxious from the drugs. Ventolin usually makes me jittery anyways and I also had two doses of adrenaline. I had to lay down because I felt like I was going to pass out, and I was shaking uncontrollably (from the meds) for what seemed like hours. Apparently I talked non stop. Allergies are sometimes associated with the development of anxiety disorders and I wonder if the meds we're given during an anaphylactic event might be a major contributing factor. (Disclaimer: I don't see this as a foregone conclusion because during a traumatic event adrenaline would be released naturally anyways. The question would be whether the additional adrenaline would make a difference in one's processing of a traumatic event.)


Last edited by Helen on Sun Jan 14, 2007 8:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun May 28, 2006 11:47 pm 
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Location: Gatineau, Quebec
Helen - do you have URLs to those articles - or even to the abstracts? I will add them to my web links if you do.

Thanks!

K.

_________________
Karen, proud Mom of
- DS1 (12 yrs): allergic to cashews, pistachios, Brazil nuts, potatoes, some legumes, some fish, pumpkin seeds; OAS
- DS2 (1o yrs): ana. to dairy, eggs, peanuts; asthma


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PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2006 11:24 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:53 pm
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Location: Canada
Sorry, Karen, I don't have any links. I just looked up those articles at the U of T library. I can get the full text online, but it isn't publicly available. Perhaps the abstracts would be on Medline?


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PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 12:18 am 
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Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2005 4:04 pm
Posts: 2044
Location: Gatineau, Quebec
I found the abstracts:

The relation of stress and family environment to atopic dermatitis symptoms in children:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/quer ... t=Abstract

Stress and Atopic Disorders:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/quer ... t=Abstract

And for The Emotional Brain:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/068483 ... e&n=283155

K.

_________________
Karen, proud Mom of
- DS1 (12 yrs): allergic to cashews, pistachios, Brazil nuts, potatoes, some legumes, some fish, pumpkin seeds; OAS
- DS2 (1o yrs): ana. to dairy, eggs, peanuts; asthma


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PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2006 2:42 am 
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Joined: Wed May 31, 2006 12:18 am
Posts: 45
Location: Edmonton
Helen wrote:
Allergies are sometimes associated with the development of anxiety disorders and I wonder if the meds we're given during an anaphylactic event might be a major contributing factor. (Disclaimer: I don't see this as a foregone conclusion because during a traumatic event adrenaline would be released naturally anyways. The question would be whether the additional adrenaline would make a difference in one's processing of a traumatic event.) If I were a psychologist I think I would want to research this! (I don't think that I have an anxiety disorder or anything, but I did have a mild form of PTSD for awhile I think).


Helen,

I suffer from severe allergies and also haave generalized anxiety disorder. I've only had two major reactions: one in 1990 and the other in 2002, so I don't think that the adrenaline has a long term effect. During my second reaction, in 2002, my body started producing it's own adrenaline so much so that in the ER, my blood pressure was through the roof instead of reallly low. But i also have a very long history of depression in my family.
In my opinion, I think that the reason that risk for anxiety disorders in allergic people comes from the constant fear we live in every day ( at least I do!). We can never have a perfectly safe environment no matter how hard we try! I have severe environmental allergies and being safe from those would require me living in a bubble from April to November!
For me, it's definitely the anxiety of having a reaction, coupled with the genetic predisposition, and the ver day stress that non-allergic people face.
Hope this helps

Caroline

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Anaphylaxis to fish, nut, peanuts, soy, birch, and grass.
OAS


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PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2006 9:09 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 23, 2005 1:17 pm
Posts: 50
Location: Hamilton, Ontario
I believe I'm feeling one of those psychological effects right now. I just put my 16-year-old PA son on a bus with 20 schoolmates and two teachers bound for Timmins, Ontario (an 8-hour drive away) for a four day soccer tournament. This is his first overnight trip without either my husband or myself along since he started high school. With all the attention on teenaged allergic children lately, I can't help but feel uneasy. Anyone have some spare tranquilizers? :?

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Mom of 21 yr old son with peanut/nut allergy & environmental allergies


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PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2006 9:20 am 
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Joined: Sun Mar 05, 2006 1:05 pm
Posts: 528
Location: Burlington, Ontario
Yakkie, I feel for you!

My friend's daughter, who is peanut/treenut allergic, went to Boston for 4 days a couple of months ago, the first time ever she let her out of her sight, so to speak. My friend felt what she described as a "white panick". But guess what? Everything went very well. :D

You have to trust your child's judgment. He's probably less nervous than you!

We have to let them go at some point and it's hard, I know.

Let us know how the trip went!


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2006 10:01 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:53 pm
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Location: Canada
Hi Caroline,

I'm sorry to hear about your difficulties with anxiety. Allergies are definitely anxiety-inducing! For awhile I lived in res. with a bunch of egg and nut eating folks (they were careful about the nuts for the most part, but still it's stressful) and I noticed that my anxiety levels went way down after moving into my own nut free egg free apartment.

I see now that my post wasn't all that clear...I wasn't suggesting that adrenaline has a lasting effect in the body (and I'm glad you caught this because I don't want to imply that adrenaline is dangerous). Adrenaline occurs naturally in the body and the shot of epinephrine is fully metabolized.

I also didn't mean to equate post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with anxiety disorders....post traumatic stress occurs when one (or a number of related) terrifying, horrific experiences are burnt into the memory and send the body into fight or flight mode. (<=not a scientific definition) Because PTSD results in heightened anxiety levels it can lead to the development of anxiety disorders. So whereas PTSD is more about how the mind processed one or more experiences (and I've heard that there is evidence that our minds process traumatic events differently. and we remember them differently) anxiety disorders are more the result of continual experiences of anxiety. (that's my understanding anyways).

So my question about adrenaline has more to do about how adrenaline functions to heighten memory at a particular moment in time. After going through similar traumatic experiences, some people develop PTSD and some people don't. I'm not sure that we really know why. But I was wondering if anxiety-inducing drugs might make it more likely that someone would develop PTSD (as opposed to someone going through the same experience without the drugs). Not that I think that adrenaline could *cause* PTSD...just that it might make it more likely for the brain to process the experience as traumatic (I'm guessing). But then as you point out the stress of having a reaction is going to result in the overproduction of adrenaline...so maybe the dose we get in the hospital isn't going to make that much of a difference. (this is just wholly speculative.)


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2006 9:16 am 
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Location: Burlington, Ontario
Helen, it's interesting what you say about our body producing adrenaline in times of crisis. I remember watching a show about wacky weddings (like America's Funniest Videos, except it was all weddings were something wacky happened). This one bride who was allergic to insect venom got stung by an insect no doubt attracted by her bouquet. You could hear her whisper to the groom that she had just been stung and he kept asking her if she was allright. She was very determined to get through the ceremony and after the ceremony I believe she did go to the hospital just to be on the safe side, but guess what, her body had fought the reaction! They believe that her adrenaline was already pumping so high because of wedding nerves and that might have saved her life.

Now I wouldn't recommend to anybody to just wait it out like that, it definitely would have been wiser to stop the ceremony, get an Epipen shot, go to the hospital, but still, it was interesting to see how the adrenaline took care of things. (There's the possibility also that she didn't get stung by an insect she was allergic to.)


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2006 9:48 am 
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Location: Ontario, Canada / Cambridge, UK
Nicole, we are on the same wavelength. I also thought of that show when I read Helen's post. :D

_________________
16-year-old son: peanuts, nuts, raw egg whites, asthmatic
Self: allergic rhinitis, fragrance/chemical sensitivities, oral allergy syndrome


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2006 10:42 pm 
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Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2005 9:50 am
Posts: 205
Location: Canada
Friends at allergic living:

My name is Clay and I am the husband of one of the members of your group, Kelly. She shares with me the discussions you have on the website on a regular basis. I was particularly interested in the discussion regarding Stress reactions, or more specifically, the use of the term PTSD. Kelly and I are members of OASG and I have discussed this submission with Karen (your moderator). I have her permission to include this in the formum.

I have some background and education in this subject area. I served with the Canadian Forces for 25 years and upon my retirement was hired to work with the Mental Health Department of the Base Hospital. For the past four years I have been involved with the assessment, diagnosis and treatment for soldiers suffering from psychosocial difficulties under the direction of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, addictions counsellors and mental health nurses. I am trained in the techniques of peer support counselling and fill an instructor position with the Critical Incident Stress Response Team.

I am not a doctor or a professional mental health clinician. I merely offer some information on the subject you were discussing. Do not use any of the information below to diagnose yourself or anyone else. If you have concerns about stress issues in your life, discuss them with your family doctor or a Mental Health Department at a hospital.

The information below comes from the DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - Fourth Edition).

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating condition that follows a terrifying event. Often, people with PTSD have persistent frightening thoughts and memories of their ordeal and feel emotionally numb, especially with people they were once close to. PTSD, once referred to as shell shock, was first brought to public attention by war veterans, but it can result from any number of traumatic incidents. These include kidnapping, serious accidents such as car or train wrecks, natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes, violent attacks such as a mugging, rape, or torture, or being held captive. The event that triggers it may be something that threatened the person's life or the life of someone close to him or her.

The person has experienced or witnessed or was confronted with an unusually traumatic event that has both of these elements:

The event involved actual or threatened death or serious physical injury to the person or to others,

and

The person felt intense fear, horror or helplessness
The person repeatedly relives the event in at least 1 of these ways:

Intrusive, distressing recollections - thoughts, images.
Repeated, distressing dreams.
Through flashbacks, hallucinations or illusions, acts or feels as if the event were
recurring.
Marked mental distress in reaction to internal or external cues that symbolize or
resemble the event.
Physiological reactivity - such as rapid heart beat, elevated blood pressure in response to these cues.


The person repeatedly avoids the trauma-related stimuli and has numbing of general responsiveness (absent before the traumatic event) as shown by 3 or more of:

Tries to avoid thoughts, feelings or conversations concerned with the event.
Tries to avoid activities, people or places that recall the event.
Cannot recall an important feature of the event.
Marked loss of interest or participation in activities important to the patient.
Feels detached or isolated from other people.
Restriction in ability to love or feel other strong emotions.
Feels life will be brief or unfulfilled (lack of marriage, job and/or children).

At least 2 of the following symptoms of hyper-arousal were not present before the traumatic event:

Insomnia (initial or interval)
Irritability
Poor concentration
Hyper-vigilance
Increased startle response

The above symptoms have lasted longer than one month.
These symptoms cause clinically important distress or impair work, social or personal functioning.

Important Gender Differences:

The most common precipitating events for PTSD in women were rape and physical assault (33.8% and 32.3% of reported events, respectively).
For men, seeing someone seriously hurt or killed and physical assaults were the most prevalent (25.3% and 20.3%). Women and men were equally likely to have been exposed to trauma.
Women, however, were more likely than men to meet criteria for lifetime and current PTSD.

Adjusting for gender differences, subjects who were severely dependent on cocaine were more likely than moderately dependent subjects to meet lifetime criteria for PTSD.
PTSD also was more prevalent in subjects with a history of major depression, antisocial
personality disorder, and cannabis dependence, but not alcohol dependence.

Associated Features:

Depressed Mood
Somatic or Sexual Dysfunction
Guilt or Obsession
Addiction

Differential Diagnosis:

Some disorders display similar or sometimes even the same symptom. The clinician, therefore, in his/her diagnostic attempt, has to differentiate against the following disorders which he/she needs to rule out to establish a precise diagnosis.

Adjustment Disorder
Brief Psychotic Disorder.
Conversion Disorder.
Major Depressive Disorder.
Acute Stress Disorder
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Schizophrenia
Mood Disorder With Psychotic Features
Delirium
Substance-Induced Disorders
Psychotic Disorders Due to a General Medical Condition
Malingering

Cause:

PTSD can occur at any age as it is dependent upon the experience of a traumatic event. Such events include:

Military Combat
Violent Criminal Attacks
Sexual Assaults
Serious Accidents
Life threatening natural disasters

The cause is not known, but psychological, genetic, physical, and social factors may contribute to it. In studies of Vietnam war veterans, those with strong support systems were less likely to develop PTSD than those without or poor support systems and PTSD develops immediately after they experience the traumatic event. However, in other people, signs of the disorder do not develop until several weeks, months, or even years after the event.

Treatment:

Individual or group therapy, in addition to some medications, may be used in the treatment of PTSD.


Again I caution you not to attempt to diagnose yourself. PTSD is a relatively rare condition and shares many symptoms in common with other conditions. Experiencing anxiety and stress as a result to serious allergic reactions (e.g. anaphylaxis) should be seen as normal reactions to the external stressors being visited on your body. One should consider seeking help if the anxiety and stress reactions continue long after the immediate reaction has subsided and the threat is no longer present.

I offer this information with the hope that it explains the condition of PTSD more clearly so the term is not used indiscriminately or inappropriately in future discussion on the subject.

_________________
I have anaphylaixis, and asthma,sinus allergies,mulitiple food allergies and drug allergies enviromental allergies and chemical allergies..


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2006 11:00 pm 
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Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 6:48 pm
Posts: 614
Location: Ontario, Canada / Cambridge, UK
Hi Clay,

Thanks for posting. As I am sure you know, one of the more well-known sufferers of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is Romeo Dallaire, the former commander of UN peacekeeping forces in Rwanda. He raised awareness of PTSD by publicly speaking about his own struggle. In fact, he helped many countries around the world to recognize PTSD, something widely referred to as "peacekeeper's injury." A few years ago, the children's rights charity I used to work for invited him to be our guest speaker. I was absolutely riveted by his experiences... and the fact that he could talk about them (after much therapy and treatment, of course). It was a real honour to meet him. He later wrote the book "Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda".

http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/dallaire/

Ok, sorry for going slightly off topic. :)

_________________
16-year-old son: peanuts, nuts, raw egg whites, asthmatic
Self: allergic rhinitis, fragrance/chemical sensitivities, oral allergy syndrome


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