Moldy Home, Depressed Dweller
Depression May Be Particularly Common in People Living in Damp or Moldy Homes
Aug. 29, 2007 -- Living in a damp or moldy home may be depressing, according
to a new study on household mold and depression.
The researchers stop short of blaming depression on moldy homes. But they
see reason for more research on the topic.
The study included more than 5,800 adults living in nearly 3,000 homes in
eight European cities in France, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Portugal, Italy,
Switzerland, and Lithuania.
Participants completed surveys about depression symptoms in the previous two
weeks. Nine percent of them were classified as depressed, report Edmond
Shenassa, ScD, and colleagues.
The researchers also visited participants' homes to gauge the homes' mold
and dampness and to ask participants if they felt "in control" of their
homes. More than half of the participants -- 57% -- lived in homes that weren't
moldy or damp.
Depressed participants were particularly likely to live in damp or moldy
homes, especially those who felt that their homes were out of control.
Social and economic status didn't fully explain the results.
"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," says Shenassa, who works in Providence,
R.I. in the community health department of Brown University's medical
"But the opposite was true. We found a solid association between
depression and living in a damp, moldy home," Shenassa says.
The study doesn't prove that household mold causes depression. The
researchers couldn't control for every possible depression risk factor -- and
they couldn't prove which came first -- depression or household mold.
"What the study makes clear is the importance of housing as an indicator
of health, including mental health," says Shenassa.
The study appears in the upcoming October edition of the American Journal
of Public Health.