Schonmann Y, Mansfield KE, Hayes JF, Abuabara K, Roberts A, Smeeth L, Langan SM.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology in Practice (2019) doi: 10.1016/j.jaip.2019.08.030


Atopic eczema is a common and debilitating condition associated with depression and anxiety, but the nature of this association remains unclear.


To explore the temporal relationship between atopic eczema and new depression/anxiety.


This matched cohort study used routinely collected data from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink, linked to hospital admissions data. We identified adults with atopic eczema (1998-2016) using a validated algorithm, and up to 5 individuals without atopic eczema matched on date of diagnosis, age, sex, and general practice. We estimated the hazard ratio (HR) for new depression/anxiety using stratified Cox regression to account for age, sex, calendar period, Index of Multiple Deprivation, glucocorticoid treatment, obesity, smoking, and harmful alcohol use.


We identified 526,808 adults with atopic eczema who were matched to 2,569,030 without. Atopic eczema was associated with increased incidence of new depression (HR, 1.14; 99% CI, 1.12-1.16) and anxiety (HR, 1.17; 99% CI, 1.14-1.19). We observed a stronger effect of atopic eczema on depression with increasing atopic eczema severity (HR [99% CI] compared with no atopic eczema: mild, 1.10 [1.08-1.13]; moderate, 1.19 [1.15-1.23]; and severe, 1.26 [1.17-1.37]). A dose-response association, however, was less apparent for new anxiety diagnosis (HR [99% CI] compared with no atopic eczema: mild, 1.14 [1.11-1.18]; moderate, 1.21 [1.17-1.26]; and severe, 1.15; [1.05-1.25]).


Adults with atopic eczema are more likely to develop new depression and anxiety. For depression, we observed a dose-response relationship with atopic eczema severity.