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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Factors accounting for the association between anxiety and depression, and eczema: the Hordaland health study (HUSK)

Marianne Klokk12*, Karl Gunnar Gotestam2 and Arnstein Mykletun34

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Adult Psychiatry, Aalesund Hospital, Helse Sunnmore HF, N-6026 Aalesund, Norway

2 Department of Neuroscience, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, MTFS, NO-7489 Trondheim, Norway

3 Research Centre for Health Promotion (HEMIL), Faculty of Psychology, University of Bergen, Christiesgt. 13, N-5015 Bergen, Norway

4 Division of Mental Health, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Pb 4404 Nydalen, NO-0403 Oslo, Norway

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BMC Dermatology 2010, 10:3  doi:10.1186/1471-5945-10-3

Published: 22 April 2010

Abstract

Background

The association between anxiety and depression, and eczema is well known in the literature, but factors underlying this association remain unclear. Low levels of omega-3 fatty acids and female gender have been found to be associated with both depression and eczema. Somatization and health anxiety are known to be associated with anxiety and depression, further, somatization symptoms and health anxiety have also been found in several dermatological conditions. Accordingly, omega-3 fatty acid supplement, female gender, somatization and health anxiety are possible contributing factors in the association between anxiety and depression, and eczema. The aim of the study is to examine the relevance of proposed contributing factors for the association between anxiety and depression, and eczema, including, omega-3 fatty acid supplement, female gender, health anxiety and somatization.

Methods

Anxiety and depression was measured in the general population (n = 15715) employing the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). Information on eczema, female gender, omega-3 fatty acid supplement, health anxiety and somatization was obtained by self-report.

Results

Somatization and health anxiety accounted for more than half of the association between anxiety/depression, and eczema, while the other factors examined were of minor relevance for the association of interest.

Conclusions

We found no support for female gender and omega-3 fatty acid supplement as contributing factors in the association between anxiety/depression, and eczema. Somatization and health anxiety accounted for about half of the association between anxiety/depression, and eczema, somatization contributed most. The association between anxiety/depression, and eczema was insignificant after adjustment for somatization and health anxiety. Biological mechanisms underlying the mediating effect of somatization are yet to be revealed.