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Childhood asthma linked to depression

Children with asthma are twice as likely to develop depression or anxiety disorders than children without asthma, research in the Journal of Adolescent Health shows.

This is the first study to demonstrate such a strong connection between asthma and mental health problems.

Researchers in the US interviewed 1,300 young people aged 11 to 17 years and found that 16% with asthma had mental health disorders compared with 9% who did not have asthma.

Youths with asthma were about 1.9 times more likely to have depression or anxiety disorders than other children.

Young people with depression and anxiety disorders found it harder to manage their asthma and were more likely to smoke, making their asthma harder to treat.

Study author Wayne Katon said: "Physicians treating young people with asthma should realise that those children are at a greater risk of depressive and anxiety disorders, and should try to educate patients with their families about this increased risk."

Journal of Adolescent Health

Are you surprised by this link between asthma, depression and anxiety disorders or does it make sense to you? Please leave your comments, name and address in the feedback box below. Your personal details will not be published if you so request. (Terms and conditions apply)

"I'm not surprised at all; imagine having to live with fighting for breath" - Michelle Rijckmans, UK

"Having finally been diagnosed by the age of 3-4 after having my first attack after an allergy shot, I was fortunate to have a leading paediatrician in the field from Stanford Universy teach my family not to treat me as if I were a 'sick child'. Only to treat me when symptoms arose or when sick, to go to the doctor to be checked. Now that I live in Oregon [USA], I suffer from May through October with grass/trees/mould allergies and now need inhalers daily. Recently I got my first four years of life's records to learn I consistently had URI's since infancy. Interestingly, depression does run in my maternal family tree and possible mood disorders in the paternal line, but it was a tragic event that triggered diagnosis of dysthymia with panic attacks and anxiety. The sweating is the worst. People think I'm having hot flushes but I've been like this since I was 30. I can't breathe properly without air moving around me. Air conditioning helps cut the humidity and HEPA filters help even further. People aren't very sensitive however to my plight, and I often have to tell them my body does not adjust quickly to different temperature changes. For me, I have both, but I have no proof that they are connected. One day I would love to take a blood test to know" - Name and address supplied

"My daughter has suffered from asthma since early childhood. Now, aged sixteen she has been diagnosed with anxiety. What's next?" - Name and address supplied

"I can understand the link between anxiety and asthma, because a person with trouble breathing might readily become anxious and that would actually be a normative response. However, I think I need to read more to understand the link between depression/anxiety and asthma/depression, because I don't think that every person with depression has an anxiety aspect to it, unless it is a bipolar illness" - Name and address supplied

"I believe there is a link between the two. I am 57 years-old and have had asthma all of my life and I still fight bouts of depression. It is a miserable disease to deal with as an adult and for a child it is worse" - Name and address supplied

"It makes total sense to me. I was a severe asthmatic as a child, not allowed to even go outside.  Later in life I started smoking marajuana to be able to mingle with others, and now I'm in therapy for my clinical depression and for social anxiety disorder.  I've been in therapy for  four years now, and have made very little progress in that time" - Name and address supplied

"Makes sense to me, considering I have asthma and I also have been told I have chronic anxiety. With all the medications that I have taken over the years, all the emotional scares that I have gone through due to not being able to breathe, the emergency visits to the hospital, I can see where all this has come from. I agree 100%" - Name and address supplied