A mold allergy causes the immune system to overreact when someone inhales mold spores. This can trigger a surge of reactions that produce allergic symptoms. Annoying coughs and itchy eyes are common allergic reactions, but mold can cause other symptoms as well.
Mold, also called fungus, has long been associated with asthma, restricted breathing and airway problems. Recent studies also link it to depression and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). A misdiagnosis of these lesser-known complications may result in delayed or inappropriate treatment.
The Link between Mold and Depression
A 2007 study found a relationship between mold and depression involving both physical and psychological aspects. Published in the “American Journal of Public Health,” the study linked mold exposure to physical symptoms like fatigue, allergies and asthma. The stressful and helpless feelings that these symptoms produce also cause psychological symptoms, especially depression.
Mold toxins, called mycotoxins, also cause inflammation in the nervous system and brain tissue. Inflammatory reactions disrupt the production of important neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. These brain chemicals enable the mind to focus, concentrate and process information.
Abnormal levels of brain neurotransmitters lead to fatigue, brain fog, depression, anxiety, impaired speech and vision, aggression and more. Sometimes behavior disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), are caused by exposure to mold.
The Link Between Mold and PMS
Recent research also indicates a connection between mold and premenstrual syndrome. PMS is a group of symptoms that some women experience a few days before their menstrual cycle. The symptoms affect women differently. Breast tenderness, abdominal bloating, cramps, headaches and mood swings are common symptoms of PMS.
Although the cause of premenstrual syndrome is unclear, fluctuating hormone levels are often to blame. Few women and even their doctors associate PMS with mold exposure. However, the latest studies suggest that mold infestation at home or work may aggravate PMS symptoms.
How Does Mold Cause Depression and PMS?
Mold grows in fungal units called mycelium, and they reproduce through spore formation. Once airborne, these spores may become inhaled and cause allergic reactions. When mycotoxins cause brain tissue inflammation, they impact brain function. This can lead to a number of cognitive, behavioral and mood problems like depression.
Mycotoxins in the liver reduce liver efficiency and elevate toxic stress. They also cause an accumulation of estrogen, the major female reproductive hormone. Elevated estrogen levels can lead to gastrointestinal disturbances and the uncomfortable symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. They may also contribute estrogen-related cancers.
The Importance of Mold Removal
The correct diagnosis of depression and PMS can make a big difference in treatment. Mold infestations are common, and patients should talk to their doctors about any mold-related health symptoms they may experience.
Eliminating mold from the home or workplace can significantly improve the physical and psychological symptoms of mold allergy. While some homeowners choose to clean or remove mold by themselves, this decision can worsen mold-related health symptoms. Professional mold removal companies are a better option, since they are trained to handle even serious mold infestations with expertise.