Eczema is a shared risk factor for anxiety and depression: A meta-analysis and systematic review

Globally, anxiety and depression are the most common psychiatric disorders that add large burdens to individuals and society; however, the mechanisms underlying these disorders are unclear. Several studies have found that eczema is a shared risk factor for both these conditions. We identified and evaluated eligible observational studies from EMBASE and PubMed. In total, 20 relevant cohort and case-control studies comprising 141,910 patients with eczema and 4,736,222 control participants fulfilled our established criteria. Information extracted included study design, location, sample size, sex distribution of cases and controls or reference cohorts, measurements of outcomes, odds ratio (OR) with 95% confidence interval (CI), and adjusted factors for exposure associated with outcome risk. The meta-analysis was performed by calculating the pooled OR with 95% CI, and heterogeneity was assessed using Cochrane Q and I2 statistics. The pooled effect showed a positive association (n = 4,896,099, OR = 1.63, 95% CI [1.42−1.88], p<0.001) between eczema and depression or anxiety, with positive associations also observed in the depression (n = 4,878,746, OR = 1.64, 95% CI [1.39−1.94], p<0.001) and anxiety (n = 4,607,597, OR = 1.68, 95% CI [1.27−2.21], p<0.001) groups. Subgroup and sensitivity analyses confirmed that these findings were stable and reliable.

This study suggests that eczema is associated with an increased risk of developing depression and anxiety, which may assist clinicians in the prevention or treatment of these disorders.