Your child is squirming on the couch, picking fights with their siblings and is irritable. You try to get him ready for bed- but he’s being difficult. Finally, after going to the bathroom, he settles down for a bit and you can get his PJ’s on and brush his teeth. But then the bad mood comes back- he’s just not settled, his gassy- and on the toilet again. An hour later he is calm enough to go into bed- late again! And oh’ so sad. You know it’s going to be a long night…… Sounds familiar?
For a child with a food intolerance or food allergy- all it takes is an oversight to be uncomfortable and in pain for the rest of the day. Consuming a food allergy causes a wide range of symptoms that understandably affects a person’s mood and makes it difficult to function at an optimum level. Now consider someone with anaphylaxis. ( Anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction) Having a life-threatening allergy causes an enormous amount of fear regarding the potential of accidental allergy consumption which increases stress and anxiety.
Another possible contributing factor to an emotional response is antihistamines which can cause sleep disturbances causing tiredness and which can be the source of side effects such as irregular sleep patterns and increase irritability. At the end of the day, a person with allergies and who is experiencing the symptoms could just be worn down! Life doesn’t suddenly stop when a person has an allergy flare-up, kids still have to go to school, parents to work- a combination which is both mentally and physically draining.
The importance of emotional healthcare for patients with respiratory and food allergies has drawn the attention of researchers and healthcare professionals- after noticing the increasing number of people with allergies and mental health issues. This has led to a tentative step towards clinical research in the hope to understand this connection further.
Many studies have been conducted over the past 15 year focusing on the link between allergies and mental health. However they show a connection but not a cause. This study shows that those who suffer from allergies are 50% more likely to experience depression. A study conducted in 2002 found that allergic reactions to ragweed caused significant fatigue and mood changes. In no way do these studies mean that all people with allergies have a mental health issue or that all people with depression have allergies, but experiencing allergic reactions seems to increase the risk of developing a mental health issue. In 2008 a study showed a connection between depression levels and allergy symptoms when examining tree pollen allergies.
Respiratory, skin and food allergies, as well as food sensitivities, have been linked to several emotional, behavioral, and developmental issues in children (Beurkens,2018) such as:
However, none of the studies tell us why.
An allergic reaction is a form of inflammation. When the body experiences this, 2 things happen. Firstly, the immune system responds by releasing cytokines, protein molecules used in communication between cells. These molecules send signals to the brain inducing feelings of sickness that often come with the flu. It is also believed that cytokine has a negative effect on the brain and mental health- causing sadness and depression.
Secondly, the allergic reactions trigger the release of cortisol, a stress hormone that interferes with serotonin- a ‘feel-good’ brain chemical. When there is an imbalance with serotonin research says that depression and anxiety might be induced.
The good news is that you can do something actively to protect your mental health. In 2013 a study found that patients who had been treated for their allergies were less likely that their mental health was affected than those whose condition was left untreated. If you have noticed that you are susceptible to increase feelings of sadness, anxiety and depression during an allergy flare-up- it is really important to get control of your allergies and their symptoms so you can physically feel better and start to heal again.
During our recent visit to Israel, we really struggled to find food for our son who has anaphylactic level allergies to egg and sesame. We approached both restaurants and hotels and were told they were unable or unwilling to take responsibility for preparing his food.
After learning about Dr. Eliana on-line, we contacted her in the hopes that she could provide a ‘normal’ restaurant experience for our family.
Both she and Shani were meticulous in their preparations with the restaurants to ensure that our son had a wonderful and safe experience.
We truly appreciate their efforts to take care of our son, and to provide us with a lovely vacation experience.
T.M., Chicago, USA
We want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the amazing gift you have given us over this Pesach- the gift of having you with us!!!!
We have NEVER felt more comfortable, calm, and at ease than we did these past 10 days. Your warmth, professionalism, kindness, and care shown through in all that you did.
My children are so grateful that they were able to be with you this Pesach. You made sure that they were so well looked after and they felt so at ease and comfortable with you! You were so amazing and approachable to them! And they LOVED all the food you so amazingly prepared (supervised allergy-free food preparation, managed menus) for them!
It’s very difficult for us to trust people when it comes to our kids and allergies. You magically were able to take away ALL of our anxieties, and nervousness (and we don’t give that away so easily!!)
We can never fully thank you enough. We truly feel that you instantly became part of our family and we look forward to G-d willing being able to be with you and plan amazing trips with you many many many more times!!!!
Thank you and may Hashem bless you for the work you do. My son Jacob said your allergy card has been very helpful. I am so grateful- beyond words.
L.R., NY, NY
Thank you for delivering our allergy free baked goods to our hotel. We just tasted the focaccia and it was delicious!
All the best,
S.C., New Jersey
We can't thank you enough for assembling this top-notch team of specialists to work with our daughter while she is in Israel.
T.G., Philadelphia, PA
"Food Allergy Concierge assisted us with a very helpful, detailed customized allergy card in Hebrew. The Allergy card was extremely helpful for multiple allergies and allowed us to eat safely in several eateries and hotels. Highly recommended.”
G.A. Illinois USA