Mold, Environmental Toxins, and Mental Health
We are surrounded by millions of kinds of fungi (molds) and bacteria here on planet Earth. In the great outdoors most are harmless, and varieties that can be harmful to us are kept in check by more beneficial ones.
However, an overgrowth of certain types of fungi indoors can cause significant harm to humans and other animals. It is well-documented by medical research that a variety of biotoxins have profound effects – some of which are quite odd and multi-system – upon our physical and mental health.
Looking beyond your medical doctor
This information has not trickled down to most health care providers – doctors and therapists alike. During an intake, few providers routinely ask whether a patient is (or has been) working or living in a water-damaged building. Some medical professionals still believe if they are unable to diagnose a cause for chronic symptoms through the use of standard laboratory tests, the problem must be “all in your head”.
Chronic Inflammatory Response and symptoms
In fact, a wide array of mental health issues can arise from the body’s chronic inflammatory response to mold exposure. These include depression, anxiety, unexplained irritability, aberrant violent behavior, diminished cognitive functioning in the form of decreased memory, delayed word retrieval and poor judgment.
Due to their anti-inflammatory traits, some antidepressants may provide short term symptom relief. Such periods of respite from symptoms can support a belief that the presenting physical issues are “mental problems”, and the true cause of distress remains unaddressed.
The inherent psychological orientation of mental health providers means we, as therapists, may overlook the possibility of mycotoxic environmental exposure as a cause of cognitive distress. Current research makes it evident that we must include environmental elements such as mold exposure in our assessments so we can support clients struggling to find proper care.
My Experience and How I Can Help
In recent years I have had the experience of developing a chronic inflammatory response to mold which went undiagnosed for some time. As I educated myself about this condition, I discovered that my practitioners lacked the same education – they turned to me for answers to their questions.
Having become both advocate and educator as a result of this experience, I am able to support clients in evaluating and addressing environmental factors that may be contributing to their distress.
I am keenly interested in educating health care providers as well as clients about biotoxins in mold, the impact of mold toxicity on mental health, and how to support clients in getting the care they need. There is much we can learn from Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts. This is especially important to address for those of us living in areas flooded by recent hurricanes and tornadoes in Western Mass., Vermont, New York, Colorado, and the eastern coastal areas of the U.S.
Mold Support Group
I offer such direction and support through individual consultations as well as through the support group currently forming.