It is documented that mold can negatively affect your physical health, but what about your mental health? But now a recent study furthers the evidence that there may be a direct link between mold and depression.
The study, performed by Brown University epidemiologist Edmond Shenassa and published in the American Journal of Public Health, showed a link between mildew and misery. The study questioned 6,000 adults, men and women from 18-104 living in eight different European cities, about their mental health and physical health while researchers assessed their living conditions for mold. The study showed that those who lived in damp, moldy homes were around 40 percent more likely to report symptoms of depression.
It’s no secret that mold is indirectly linked to depression. A damp, moldy home is not exactly the most cheerful environment. Likewise, it’s hard to stay chipper when you’re coughing and sneezing due to poor indoor air quality.
But Shenassa’s experiment is about more than these indirect causes. If mold is able to affect the immune system and the nervous system, it’s not a stretch to imagine that it directly impedes the function of the frontal cortex – the part of the brain that plays a part in impulse control, memory, problem solving, sexual behavior, socializing, and spontaneity.
The obvious skepticism in the experiment comes from the belief that people who have damp, moldy homes are from a low socioeconomic class – and that is the true source of their depression. But Shenassa says the experiment accounted for such mitigating factors such as employment status, crowding, age, and gender
It’s also just as possible that the opposite is true – depression causes mold. People who are already depressed could cultivate a mold problem. Depression makes people less proactive, and they may be less likely address any mold or dampness issues. If both are true – mold causes depression and depression causes mold – then we have a self-escalating vicious circle. There are multiple pathways to depression and this makes it hard to nail down direct causes.
In any event, the clear takeaway from the study is that healthy homes promote healthy lives. If you can see or smell mold in your home, there are plenty of arguments to get rid of it and no arguments for leaving it.