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Is there a link between chronic rhinitis and major depression?

Published online: March 8, 2019

Chronic rhinitis, or inflammation of the nasal lining, is a common condition that is typically split into two main groups based on the underlying cause: allergic rhinitis (AR) and non-allergic rhinitis (NAR). While these disorders affect millions of people worldwide and have a significant burden on quality of life, their impact on patient psychology is less clear. This study investigates the relationship between rhinitis and major depression in the United States (US) adult population.

In this cross-sectional study by Roxbury, et al in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, a nationally representative sample of US adults was analyzed to determine the association between rhinitis and major depression. Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a total of 4320 patients were identified. Patients who self-reported rhinitis symptoms were further classified as having either AR or NAR depending on the presence or absence of blood markers for allergies. All participants in the NHANES were given a previously validated mental health and depression screener. The results of the mental health and depression screener were compared between individuals with rhinitis and individuals without rhinitis.

When taking into account other patient demographic factors and medical comorbidities, individuals with rhinitis were 42% more likely to self-report depression compared to those without rhinitis. Individuals with NAR were twice as likely to self-report depression overall, and when stratifying by depression severity, this group was 64% more likely to report mild depression and 2.5 times more likely to report moderate depression as compared to individuals without rhinitis.

This is the first study to analyze the association between self-reported rhinitis and depression in a representative sample of US adults. These results suggest that rhinitis is associated with a greater risk of depression, and in particular mild to moderate depression. When analyzing type of rhinitis, patients with NAR had the highest odds of depression when adjusting for demographic factors and other medical conditions. While future studies are required to increase our understanding of the link between rhinitis and depression, these findings reinforce the need to consider depression in patients being evaluated for rhinitis.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice is an official journal of the AAAAI, focusing on practical information for the practicing clinician.