Clinical Reviews in Allergy & Immunology

, Volume 57, Issue 1, pp 74–82 | Cite as

Beyond Avoidance: the Psychosocial Impact of Food Allergies

  • Charles FengEmail author
  • Jea-Hyoun Kim


Over the past few years, the rates of food allergies have dramatically increased. As a result, the lives of patients and their caregivers have been dramatically altered. While most attention surrounding food allergies has focused on treatment, less consideration has been given to the mental health ramifications of living with this condition, among them depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, being bullied, and an overall poorer quality of life. At the same time, patients’ family lives are often disrupted. Parents of food-allergic children, especially mothers, report anxiety, depression, and a decreased quality of life. Indeed, mental health issues associated with food allergies are likely underrecognized. In this review, we describe not only the psychosocial impacts of food allergies but also survey treatments that can be used to address this burgeoning problem. Interventions include educating members of the greater community about food allergies, camps for food allergic children, and support groups for parents. For physicians, treatment options consist of oral challenges, proximity challenges, oral immunotherapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Although the existing research is built on an already strong foundation, ultimately more studies are needed to deepen our understanding of the relationship between food allergies and mental health.


Food allergy Depression Anxiety Quality of life Bullying 



The authors thank Olivia Feng and Kevin Simler for reviewing this manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research Involving Human Participants and/or Animals

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed Consent

For this type of study, formal consent is not required.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Allergy and ImmunologyPalo Alto Medical FoundationMountain ViewUSA
  2. 2.Department of Behavioral HealthSanta Clara Valley Health and Hospital SystemSan JoseUSA

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