Eczema a shared risk factor for anxiety and depression


A retrospective review has revealed that eczema can be associated with a 63% increased chance of patients also developing either depression or anxiety.


The study, published in PLOS ONE, reported that potential explanations for this high rate may be due to the effects of eczema, such as social isolation and disrupted sleep from incessant itching.


Researchers from the Sixth Affiliated Hospital of Kunming Medical University in Yuxi, Yunnan, China, pooled data from 20 studies that included 141,910 people with eczema and 4,736,222 controls who did not have eczema. Subgroup analyses were also used to determine whether region, study design, sex, conducted years, Newcastle-Ottawa Scale (NOS) score, or sample size were contributing factors for heterogeneity. The subgroup analysis included the identification of small studies (<500 participants), medium studies (between 500 and 5,000 participants), and large studies (>5,000 participants). High-quality studies were defined as those with a NOS score of seven or more.


An analysis of the data disclosed that eczema was associated with a 64% increased risk of depression, and a 68% increased risk of anxiety.


The authors note that while the mechanisms that link eczema and mental health remain unclear, they suggest some studies indicate there may be shared physiological causes such as hormones, the immune system, and nervous system that may involve oxidative stress and inflammation.


“This study suggests that eczema is associated with an increased risk of developing depression and anxiety, which may assist clinicians in the prevention or treatment of these disorders,” the authors wrote.


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