Mold and Depression May Be Linked
> 8/30/2007 2:23:36 PM

If you have ever seen, through teary eyes, the menacing spread of mold along the walls of your house, you know that the mycotoxins it releases can bring flu-like symptoms and respiratory problems. When mold grows out of control, some people decide to abandon their homes rather than live with a constant cold. For those who are thinking about toughing it out, there is disturbing new research indicating that mold may damage the brain.

When suspicion about mold’s neurotoxicity started to build, Dr. Juliana Baldo performed a study for the Northern California Health Care System. Dr. Baldo found that a significantly higher percentage of those exposed to mold at home and work had impaired visuospatial learning, visuospatial memory, verbal learning, and psychomotor speed. In addition to cognitive defects, exposed subjects were at greater risk for Axis I and II DSM-IV diagnoses, and they scored higher on the Beck Depression Inventory.

The connection between depression and mold was reinforced yesterday by a press release from Brown University. Dr. Edmond Shenassa analyzed data from the Large Analysis and Review of European Housing and Health Status (LARES) study to look for patterns in the reports of depression. Ironically, as he describes in the press release, Dr. Shenassa began this analysis in an attempt to debunk a theory that she was deeply skeptical of:

We thought that once we statistically accounted for factors that could clearly contribute to depression – things like employment status and crowding – we would see any link vanish.

But the link did not vanish. The more Dr. Shenassa focused on the LARES data, the more clear it became that those living with mold were suffering mood problems in addition to physical symptoms like wheezing and sore throat. Dr. Shenassa posits three possible explanations for the link:

Respondents may be depressed because of their physical symptoms. If you are kept up all night coughing, you are unlikely to wake up cheerfully in the morning.

They may be depressed because they feel that they are living in an unpleasant environment that they can’t improve (He fails to point out that the correlation could just as easily be flipped to say that depressed people are less likely to vigilantly maintain their homes). It is difficult to resolve the ambiguities for this explanation. For example, post-Katrina New Orleans has elevated rates of depression and mold. Are citizens depressed by the sight of the mold they live with, or by the flood that took their friends and possessions to leave only mold and wreckage in exchange.

The most eldritch explanation is that mold directly affects the brain. This explanation could not be confirmed by the LARES study, but it is certainly plausible. Today, Michigan State coincidentally presented evidence that mold can destroy neurons. Researchers exposed mice to fumes from black mold and found that their sense of smell was impaired. Satratoxin G from the fumes specifically destroyed olfactory neurons. The mice were exposed to toxin levels no greater than those that humans could expect to encounter in moldy homes, so these results may have grave implications for owners of damp homes. Dr. Shenassa plans to conduct further research into whether human neurons are being destroyed by mold. Until the results are in, keep your house dry and look out for suspicious discolorations and gloomy thoughts.


thsnk you. this may help alot of people. if they tale the to read this artivle. thank you so munch, brenda ash
Posted by: brenda ash 9/3/2007 8:14:00 AM

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