Article

Specificity in the association of anxiety, depression, and atopic disorders in a community sample of adolescents

Department of Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI, USA.
Journal of Psychiatric Research (Impact Factor: 4.09). 11/2010; 45(6):788-95. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2010.11.003
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The specificity of relationships between anxiety and depressive symptoms, with each of the major atopic disorders of asthma, allergic rhinitis (AR), and atopic dermatitis (AD) was systematically investigated within a single study sample. Participants included 367 adolescents who participated in a community, longitudinal study investigating risk factors for the development of psychiatric and physical health problems. Mental health symptoms were assessed at 7, 9, 11, and 13 years of age. Lifetime history of atopic disorders was assessed by parent report at age 13. Analysis of variance was used to investigate the specificity of the associations between anxiety and depression, and each of the atopic disorders. Results indicated that anxiety was associated with a lifetime history of atopic disorders as a group. The association was significantly strengthened when controlling for depression and externalizing psychiatric symptoms. Among atopic disorders, "pure" anxiety was associated with asthma and AR, and having both asthma and AR strengthened the association compared to having either disorder alone. The association of "pure" anxiety with asthma and AR is consistent with existing data suggesting a relationship between anxiety and respiratory disorders. Having both asthma and AR appeared to confer an additive "dose effect" on the strength of the association. The lack of an association with depression suggests that other factors may contribute to the differential expression of anxiety and depression with atopic disorders. Findings demonstrate the importance of assessing the impact of co-morbid psychiatric symptoms and atopic disorders within individual studies to determine the specificity of underlying relationships between these conditions.

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