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Effects of Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis on Fatigue Levels and Mood

Marshall, Paul S. PhD; O’Hara, Christine RN, and; Steinberg, Paul MD

Original Articles

Objective Many allergy patients complain of fatigue, moodiness, and dysphoria during their allergy seasons. This study evaluated the effect of symptomatic allergic rhinitis on both fatigue level and mood.

Method Symptomatic ragweed allergic rhinitis patients on no medications and healthy control subjects completed the Multi-Dimensional Fatigue Inventory and the Positive Affect-Negative Affect mood rating scales in an in-out-in ragweed season research design.

Results During ragweed seasons, allergic patients reported higher levels of general fatigue and mental fatigue, but not physical fatigue, as well as reduced motivation. Patients described experiencing feelings of greater sadness and reduced pleasurable engagement. Increased anxiety or emotional distress was not reported.

Conclusions These findings suggest that having allergic reactions to ragweed pollen causes significant fatigue and mood changes in at least a subgroup of patients. Psychoneuroimmunology and medical genetics research suggests that allergic reactions engender biochemical changes that directly affect the central nervous system.

From the Departments of Psychiatry (P.S.M.) and Medicine (C.O.), Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis, MN; and the Department of Medicine (P.S.), Bassett Healthcare, Cooperstown, NY.

Received for publication October 30, 2000;

revision received August 10, 2001.

Address reprint requests to: Paul Marshall, Department of Psychiatry, Hennepin County Medical Center, 701 Park Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55415. Email:

Copyright © 2002 by American Psychosomatic Society
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