Increased risk of allostatic overload in personalities with sensory processing sensitivity – a contribution to the explanation of the etiopathogenesis of atopy and the most common mental disorders



Liffler P. (1),  Treuherz S. (2), Fölster-Holst R. (3), Gieler U. (4), Peters E.M.J. (5)


(1) Kinderfachklinik Bellevue, Fehmarn




(3) Universitätsklinikum Schleswig-Holstein, Campus Kiel, Dermatologie, Venerologie und Allergologie, Kiel


(4) Klinik für Dermatologie und Allergologie und Klinik für Psychosomatik und Psychotherapie, Psychosomatische Dermatologie, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen


(5) Klinik für Psychosomatik und Psychotherapie, Psychoneuroimmunologie Labor, Justus-Liebig-Universität, Gießen



Short Title: Etiopathogenesis of atopy

Background: The construct of sensory processing sensitivity describes a lower stimulus threshold, conspicuous emotional touchability and sensitivity to subtle stimuli. In a pilot study by Liffler, P. et al. (2019) [1], atopic-assessed adults differed from non-atopic-predisposed adults by these characteristics. A possible dependence of atopy on these personality traits is to be investigated.


Methods and patients: An overall sample of adults (N=305) was divided into a group of persons with atopic diseases as well as a comparison group of non-atopic persons and investigated using the SENS-E screening method, a specific method for detecting sensory processing sensitivity.


Results: The comparison of the atopic-assessed participants with the non-atopic participants confirmed the results of the pilot study. The Logistic Regression Analysis showed that the presence of atopic diseases increases significantly with the level of sensory processing sensitivity.


Discussion: Sensory processing sensitivity is an irritant sensitivity that promotes a more pronounced stress response and increased susceptibility to stress-associated diseases and can thus also contribute to the explanation for the etiopathogenesis of atopy. The level of the SPS correlates with age, gender and occupation.


Key words: 

Sensory processing sensitivity - diseases of the atopic circle of forms - odds ratio - etiopathogenesis.