bitchy, not itchy
May 16, 2006 8:47 AM   Subscribe

Does it make sense that unknown exposure -- allergies or sensitivities -- is making me wildly moody?

Just last night, I detected a correlation: new job, new mood swings, new sinus troubles.

I've been on the job 5 weeks. Started out great. But the last couple of weeks I've been exceptionally emotionally unstable, and I think it's related to the new job, and involves chemical exposure.

Normally, I'm a very easy-going person, hard to provoke to any strong emotion. I'm fine when I go in to work. Then, after about 2 hours, I have sniffles and dry eyes, then my mood gets wonky. Last thursday, I was in tears; friday and yesterday, I experienced intense anger. These emotional disturbances last for a couple of hours after work, then dissipate. And, last night, I noticed my sinus trouble going away right about the time the mood lifted

There are no unusual chemicals were I work. Nobody else there seems to have a problem. I do have a history of strange chemical sensitivity.

I have an appointment with an allergist next week.

I'm strongly inclined to discuss my "theory" with my boss, who is probably concerned about my temperament.

I'd appreciate any other personal stories related to this, and links to good resources.
posted by yesster to Health & Fitness (7 answers total)
I'd avoid discussing any theories about your health with your boss, period. Boss != friend.

Try to identify and address the underlying cause of your reactions; if and only if you have evidence that the work environment is directly affecting you *and* there's nothing you can do about it do you bring this up with your manager.
posted by enrevanche at 8:58 AM on May 16, 2006

This is anecdotal, but corn flakes have made me feel violent urges. I am not kidding. I have lots of allergies.
posted by mecran01 at 10:13 AM on May 16, 2006

A fairly close friend of mine, with profound chemical sensitivities, has episodes, not simply of moodiness, but of frank paranoia which I would not have been able to distinguish from schizophrenia. He comes back to himself after a day or so, but I am convinced he has moved some distance down the road toward that dreadful Final Destination over the last few years.

You certainly sound much less sensitve than him, but I think I would sleep a lot better if I had a fallback plan for my life which did not include spending 40 hrs. a week in that building, if I were you.
posted by jamjam at 10:38 AM on May 16, 2006

I'd avoid discussing any theories about your health with your boss, period. Boss != friend.

This is true, however if the safety of your employment is in jeopardy there may be a good reason to bring it up: the ADA protects you by requiring an employer to make reasonable accommodation for -known- issues. If you don't request dispensation and let it be known you need it then they can't be held responsible for assuming you're a fuckup and canning your ass.

There's some reading here that talks about the ADA from one employer's perspective, which states " The University is obligated to make an accommodation only for the known limitations of a qualified individual with a disability. In general, it is the responsibility of the applicant, employee, or student with a disability to self-identify and inform the University that an accommodation is needed."

Mental illness has been shown to be covered under ADA, I would think chemical-caused mental issues would be as well.
posted by phearlez at 11:17 AM on May 16, 2006

Chinese medicine theory would say impurities that have to be cleansed by your liver would lead to frustration and anger. And, mucus membrane / lung irritation would theoretically be linked to sadness. Cleansing herbs might help you get through the week (I like Morning Detox tea by Celestial Seasonings).

Your symptoms do seem to match some described in the EPA's Indoor Air Quality handbook. Clicking through other links on the EPA site, I found "irritability" listed as a symptom.

You say there are no unusual chemicals where you work, but it sounds like there may be. Are your bookshelves or desk made of particle board? New carpet? The chemicals might not even be in the office. Was the office built on previously-industrial land? Near a drycleaner? (That link above has ideas I've probably missed.)

Can you ventilate your office more? Some people think plants can improve indoor air quality.
posted by salvia at 11:32 AM on May 16, 2006

Are allergies the cause or merely another symptom?

Stress can exacerbate allergies. A new job ranks high as a stress producer.

I myself developed allergies after a job loss (and a radical change in diet - becoming a vegetarian). Before that point I had never had any allergies at all. I was told by my doctor any major disruption to your emotional state or general health can trigger these things.

When I addressed the stress and the diet most of my allergies evaporated.
posted by tkchrist at 1:43 PM on May 16, 2006

You could take the "being an observer of your own body" approach. Consider that all stimuli are processed in your brain somwhere before you respond to them. The trick is to catch that process as it is happening, become aware of it, and then decide to not get crazy when your allergies get bad.

Emotions come from inside, they don't happen to you.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 4:59 PM on May 16, 2006

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