Does exposure to toxic mold cause depression? It’s well known that exposure to household mold, especially strains of mold like Stachybotrys chartarum, also referred to as black mold because of its slimy black appearance, can cause health problems. Toxic mold symptoms may include respiratory infections like pneumonia and bronchitis, chronic sinusitis, coughing, sneezing, wheezing, a runny nose, headaches or migraines, chronic sore throats, itchy or irritated eyes, shortness of breath, rashes or hives, digestive problems and fatigue. Exposure to mold may also make you depressed.
A study conducted by the Brown University School of Medicine and published in the October 2007 issue of the American Journal of Public Health found that there is a link between exposure to household mold and the development of depressive disorders. Researchers investigated the link between mold and depressive disorders throughout Europe and determined that those living in homes with significant amounts of mold were more likely to be diagnosed as clinically depressed. Researchers caution that this doesn’t definitively prove that toxic mold causes depression or any other mental health disorder, but they have established a link.
Closer to home, researchers at the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis found that people with environmental allergies, including allergies to mold, reported an increase in depressive symptoms like feelings of sadness and fatigue when their allergies flared up. Researchers say that this doesn’t necessarily mean that mold or other allergens cause those symptoms but that they can make them worse in people that already suffer from depressive disorders or other psychological problems.
Of course, mold is not the only thing that can cause depressive disorders. It’s believed that people can become depressed as a result of a variety of biochemical issues occurring in the brain and that they can also become depressed as a result of life circumstances. Drug and alcohol use or abuse can also contribute to the development of depressive disorders and other mental health problems. However, understanding that exposure to mold may be a factor can aid in the development of an appropriate and effective treatment plan as well as in the prevention of depressive disorders.
If you feel depressed, you should see a doctor or mental health care provider. We recommend seeing a psychiatrist rather than a general practitioner or internist, simply because psychiatrists have much more training and experience diagnosing and treating things like depression. However, you should see your general practitioner or internist if you are experiencing other possible toxic mold symptoms, such as respiratory problems or allergic reactions.
If you’re depressed, regardless of the cause, you should seek treatment because depressive disorders are very serious and can become life-threatening without proper treatment. Treatment typically involves a combination of medication and psychotherapy, also referred to as counseling, but your mental health care provider will develop an appropriate treatment plan for you based on your symptoms and needs.
If you think your symptoms might be related to mold exposure, then of course you should take steps to remove all mold from your home. You should do that if you have any mold-related health problems, or even if you aren’t experiencing any mold-related symptoms, for that matter. Since exposure to mold can potentially cause serious health problems, any household mold should be removed as soon as possible for your protection and for the protection of all members of your household.
We suggest scheduling a free inspection and in-home consultation with a mold remediation professional. An experienced professional can help you locate all areas of mold in the home, advise you about the work that needs to be done to remove the mold and educate you about the safety procedures that should be taken during the mold removal process. Even if you plan to do the work yourself, some free expert advice will be useful to you. To find qualified mold remediation professionals in your area offering free home inspections, just follow the link.