Magazine article Science News

Allergies and Shyness: Nothing to Sneeze At

Magazine article Science News

Allergies and Shyness: Nothing to Sneeze At

Article excerpt

Allergies and shyness: Nothing to sneeze at

Many extremely shy adults apparently have a heightened vulnerability both to allergies -- particularly hay fever -- and to mood disturbances such as severe depression or anxiety, asserts a team of psychiatrists in the September/October PSYCHOSOMATIC MEDICINE.

The investigators, led by Iris R. Bell of the University of Arizona in Tucson, divided 375 college undergraduates into four groups based on the degree of shyness each student had reported on a questionnaire that focused on shyness with strangers, fondness for large parties, and recollections of childhood shyness and fear of going to school. The researchers also administered questionnaires assessing mood disturbances and allergies, including hay fever, asthma, eczema, hives and drug allergies leading to anaphylactic shock.

Significantly more reports of depression, fearfulness, fatigue and hay fever emerged from the 72 students in the most-shy group than from the other participants. One-third of the students in the two groups ranking highest for shyness suffered from hay fever, compared with about one-fifth of the remaining students. Moreover, hay fever afflicted six of the 18 students reporting the most shyness, but struck none of the 19 students ranked as the most outgoing in the 375-person sample. …

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