A look at mold, depression, suicide

During the past 2-1/2 years of living where have and experiencing the symptoms that both my wife and I have developed, plus some information on the now deceased wife of the owner, I focused my research on the effects of mold in our personal environment and began to explore evidence-based and research backed literature for some explanation.

What I found is that neuroinflammation (chronic inflammation of the nervous system) can be caused by a variety of things including an increase in cytokines. An increase in cytokines can be triggered by mold. A very good reference book on the subject of mold is Mold Warriors by Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker. In his book, Dr. Shoemaker states that about 25% of the population is susceptible to biotoxin associated illness.


Recently published research on inflammation and depression from Denmark found that if you had a diagnosis of an autoimmune disease, like Hashimoto’s, rheumatoid arthritis or Sjogren’s, your risk of being diagnosed with a mood disorder like depression increased by 45 percent. If you had been hospitalized for some sort of infectious illness your risk of having mood disorders increased by 62 percent. And if you had both happen to you, you doubled the risk of being diagnosed with a mood illness. Mold has been shown to increase the likelihood of inflammation, depression and infectious illnesses.

Neurological Lyme is known to create psychiatric complications. There is good evidence that streptococcus infections not treated properly can lead to obsessive-compulsive disorder, aka PANDAS, is connected with higher rates of suicides. Some of the toxins and infections I found in my research on depression and anxiety are molds.

Inflammation of the brain, vasculitis, an inflammation of the blood vessels and microglial activation of the immune cells of the brain, can be linked to certain cytokines such as MMP9 and TGF-beta. Autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s can lead to an encephalopathy (a disease in which the functioning of the brain is affected by some agent or condition such as viral infection or toxins in the blood). Excitotoxicity, an increase in glutamate in the brain, and those listed above can all be triggered by mold.

One study on mold and depression was done in Europe on 6,000 adults. The researchers tested for mold by looking at the house and if they saw mold on the walls or they smelled it strongly they considered that a moldy house. There were no ERMI (environmental relative moldiness index) or other tests done.

Researchers found the level of depression in people living in visibly moldy households was about 34-40 percent higher than for residents in mold-free dwellings. It was concluded that mold increases the probability of causing the symptoms of depression.

Depression and anxiety symptoms are often treated with drugs that can cause very serious side effects, including suicide. Bipolar, aka manic depression, is a mental disorder that brings extreme high and low moods and changes in sleep, energy, thinking and behavior. People who suffer from bipolar disorder are at high risk for suicide. Information from The National Mental Health Association states that 30%-70% of suicide victims have suffered some form of depression, including bipolar disorder.

The wife of the present owner of the house we were considering in our lease/option, and who had lived in the house for years before marrying the present owner, was bipolar. She committed suicide.

R. Miller is a freelance writer and photographer who will be working with the US Forest Service teaching park visitors the basics of getting the most from their vacation photography.