Links Between Anxiety and Allergies: Psychobiological Reality or Possible Methodological Bias?


  • We thank the Dunedin Study members, their families, friends, and Unit research staff. The Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Unit is supported by the New Zealand Health Research Council. This research is supported by grants from the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (MH49414, MH45070) and the U.K. Medical Research Council grant G0100527. A.C. and T.E.M. are Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award holders. M.R. Sears holds the AstraZeneca chair in Respiratory Epidemiology at McMaster University.

concerning this article should be addressed to Alice M. Gregory, Psychology Department, Goldsmiths College, University of London, Lewisham Way, New Cross, London, SE14 6NW. E-mail:


ABSTRACT The objective of the study was to examine the link between anxiety and allergies to establish whether it reflects a psychobiological reality or a possible methodological bias. A cohort of 1,037 children enrolled in the study. Anxiety disorders were assessed between 11 and 21 years. Anxious personality was assessed at 18 years. Allergies were examined at 21 years by (a) self reports, (b) skin pricks, and (c) serum total immunoglobulin E (IgE). Self-reported allergies were predicted by recurrent anxiety disorders (OR [95% CI]=1.56 [1.06–2.30], p=.023) and self-reports of anxious personality (OR [95% CI]=1.67 [1.17–2.37], p=.004): Objectively verified allergies were not. These results suggest that the link between anxiety and allergies may reflect a methodological artifact rather than a psychobiological reality.