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Can Mold Give You Depression?

depression

Many people are aware that mold has an adverse effect on our health and wellbeing. In the last few decades, statistics for allergies, asthma, and other respiratory conditions have increased at an alarming rate. But one of the reasons for that increase is that our modern living spaces promote a sterile and closed-off environment (1).

Also, we are cleaning with more harsh chemicals and increasing the amount of moisture and dampness in our homes. In the last two years in particular, since the start of the pandemic, more people are staying at home. This means we are showering, cleaning, and spending more time in our homes thus increasing the amount of moisture in our living space.

Most of us are aware of the danger that mycotoxins from mold can have on our health. Of course, not everyone gets sick from mold. Some people have a genetic sensitivity that predisposes them to mold illness (2). But as of yet, research hasn’t been able to clearly identify who those people are and exactly why they’re so sensitive. Nonetheless, research shows that mold illness has increased exponentially over the last several decades (3).

depression

DOES MOLD CAUSE DEPRESSION?

However, a relatively new phenomenon is that mold exposure may actually contribute to the rise of depression as well. In a study conducted by Edward Shenassa and colleagues, they noticed an increase in depressive symptoms for people living in moldy or damp environments (4). This increase is still relevant even after the researchers controlled for aspects like overcrowding, economic factors, and perceived lack of control over the study participant’s environment.

The study showed that the overall risk for depression for those living in moldy and damp environments was between 34-44% (4). This is a significant number and one that we ought to pay attention to given that depression has sky-rocketed in the last several decades. Although there are many factors that lead to the development of depression, few experts have discussed the connection between mold and depression.

the overall risk for depression for those living in moldy and damp environments was between 34-44% Click To Tweet

HOW DOES MOLD IMPACT DEPRESSION?

Although this may be surprising, it makes sense considering the effect that mold can have on the nervous system and immune system (5,6). Several studies have shown that the mycotoxins produced by mold can cause clinical features similar to several neurologic disorders including pain syndromes, movement disorders, delirium, and dementia. Mold also has an effect on the immune system which has neurological consequences as well (5,7).

Several studies have shown that the mycotoxins produced by mold can cause clinical features similar to several neurologic disorders including pain syndromes, movement disorders, delirium, and dementia Click To Tweet

Any substance or pollutant that affects that neurological system will also have an effect on the neuropsychiatry of the individual, thus creating symptoms as seen in depression and anxiety. This is a startling new finding that may help unravel the common and devastating effects of both depression and increasing mold issues in modern environments.

The problem is, there are many factors involved in why a person develops depression as well as why people react to mold exposure. Interestingly, those with more sensitive immune and neurological systems are more likely to get both conditions. But what exactly denotes that sensitivity is still up for debate. More research is needed to control for several factors and thus pinpoint more causative factors.

 

WHAT OTHER FACTORS EFFECT MOLD RELATED DEPRESSION?

For instance, those that have more income are more able to clean up mold in their homes. This means they are less likely to be exposed to mold, but also, have more locus of control in creating a better home environment (4). For those without these resources, they are more likely to be exposed to mold. But also, the feeling of lacking control could be a factor in developing depression as well (4).

However, in one study, even mild or moderate mold exposure was still statistically significant even after controlling for the perception of control, other health issues, and the ability to remove mold. The study shows that mold-exposed people are still 28-34% more likely to develop depression. Nonetheless, the researchers feel that income levels need more attention as a variable in the depression and mold exposure link (8).

mold-exposed people are still 28-34% more likely to develop depression Click To Tweet

Another study looked at a comparison between mold-exposed individuals and a control group of unexposed people for factors like central or peripheral nervous system symptoms, fatigue, brain fog, arrhythmias, and multiple chemical sensitivities. The results were highly statistically significant for the study group versus the control group (9).

 

HOW DOES MOLD IMPACT YOUR NERVOUS SYSTEM?

In terms of central and peripheral nervous system issues, the study group showed that 80% of mold-exposed individuals had symptoms compared to only 11% of the control group. For fatigue and brain fog, the results were 77% and 62% for the study group versus 24% and 11% respectively (9). Since many of these symptoms are present in depression, it makes sense that depression is observed as well.

As of now, researchers can’t say that there is a definite causative link between mold exposure and depression, but the results of these studies show a strong possibility that should be explored with deeper more rigorous research.

References

https://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/43325/E92645.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1994167/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4840461/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15143854/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19854819/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2072855/

https://www.ncbi.nl

m.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7303478/

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Types of Mold: Cladosporium

Types of Mold: Cladosporium | Close up view of mold growing in a tray

Did you know there are over 100,000 different types of mold? When thinking in the context of household mold we often categorize the mold we see into colors in order to identify or explain the issues we are having. It goes much deeper than color! When we talk about types of mold that fall in the category of toxic, there are 5 to be concerned about: Cladosporium, Penicilium, Fusarium, Aspergillus, and Stachybotrys. In this article, we are going to talk specifically about Cladosporium.

cladosporium - homebiotic

WHAT IS CLADOSPORIUM?

Cladosporium is one of the most common species of mold found in houses and in the outdoors. They grow on almost any organic surface such as food, soil, plants, paint, textiles, and wood. They are rapidly growing and take on a cotton-like or fluffy brown appearance. There are over 700 varieties of Cladosporium species. Some species prey on plants, whereas other species act as parasites on other fungal microbes. Some species may cause physical health symptoms in people who are sensitive to mold and fungus.

black mold on drywall - homebiotic - types of moldWHAT DOES CLADOSPORIUM MOLD LOOK LIKE?

Cladosporium has dark-colored conidia, which looks a lot like plant or tree branches under the microscope. Conidia are one-celled spores that are produced asexually. To the naked eye, Cladosporium looks like a brown-colored fluff or discoloration on wet surfaces. However, depending on where they grow, they may not always be visible. Certain species that grow on plants cause black spots on leaves and stems.

IS CLADOSPORIUM DANGEROUS OR TOXIC?

As with any types of mold species, Cladosporium can cause health problems in people of any age. However, it depends on the immune system and the sensitivity of the individual. Some may not react to Cladosporium at all, while others will develop some allergies. However, some Cladosporium species can cause health emergencies if the spore count is unusually high in the air. People with compromised immune systems may have severe skin, eye, and lung complications when exposed to Cladosporium.

Cladosporium species can cause health emergencies if the spore count is unusually high in the air. People with compromised immune systems may have severe skin, eye, and lung complications when exposed to Cladosporium. Click To Tweet

WHAT ARE CLADOSPORIUM MOLD EXPOSURE SYMPTOMS?

Allergic symptoms can occur with prolonged exposure to Cladosporium species. Often these symptoms occur when exposed to more copious amounts. Again, it depends on the sensitivity and immune system of the individual.

General allergic symptoms can include:

  • Asthma
  • Stuffy nose
  • Cough and wheezing
  • Postnasal drip
  • Itchy eyes, nose, and throat
  • Fungal infections of the sinus, skin, and ears
  • Itchy dry skin

mold on tile - homebiotic - types of moldWHERE IS CLADOSPORIUM FOUND?

Cladosporium species are the most common molds typically found in homes. They can grow on almost any surface where this is a lack of sunlight and ventilation. You can find them in basements, kitchens, bathrooms, and any dark or damp areas of the home. The fuzzy mold found on old family heirlooms, in wine cellars, or old books stacked in the corner are often from the Cladosporium genus.

Cladosporium also has pathogenic plant species for both indoor and outdoor plants. They are also the most abundant mold species found outside. They may destroy new plant sprouts and can cause blackened areas on the leaves of indoor plants.

Cladosporium also has pathogenic plant species for both indoor and outdoor plants. They are also the most abundant mold species found outside. They may destroy new plant sprouts and can cause blackened areas on the leaves of indoor… Click To Tweet

CLADOSPORIUM GROWTH CONDITIONS

Different species of Cladosporium can grow in a wide range of conditions. They thrive on both wet or dry surfaces, which has implications for identification and removal. Although most species are dry, there are a few that can grow on wet surfaces like meat and food. However, the optimal temperature range is between 18-28 degrees celsius.

INTERESTING FACT – Although Cladosporium is not known to produce dangerous mycotoxins, it produces Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) associated with odors. The classic musty smell is a good indicator that Cladosporium species are present.

cleaning sponge - homebiotic

HOW TO REMOVE CLADOSPORIUM MOLD?

Removing embedded Cladosporium clusters may require professional help. Because this species can be found on both wet and dry surfaces, it requires expert knowledge and problem-solving.

Since most Cladosporium species produce a delicate fluff, they can be easily inhaled when disturbed. Although Cladosporium is not considered lethal in the general population, for some people, it can cause severe symptoms. For this reason, removal requires some protective clothing and gear to prevent inhalation and skin exposure.

It’s important to safely remove any types of mold species in your home, even if it’s not considered toxic. Professional mold testing can be invaluable for understanding which mold species are present and where.

It’s critical to understand how to prevent mold from growing back. Keep an eye on the damp areas of your home—particularly areas like windows, plants, basements, and attics. Kitchens and bathrooms are often popular places for mold growth as well. Keep humidity below 50% and make sure there is enough air ventilation. Opening windows or using fans can significantly improve air circulation.


REFERENCES

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cladosporium

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3390897/

https://www.plantmanagementnetwork.org/pub/php/research/2008/marsh/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166061618300095#bib30

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/08940630.1987.10466201