|Winter Depression by Ramzi Hashisho|
Winter is often a time of sad feelings and depression. This widespread phenomenon has been widely diagnosed as seasonal affective disorder, which comes from the lack of light during the winter solstice. As a writer, I get seasonal affective disorder because I'm indoors all the time. Or so I thought. Research suggests, though, that there may be another, overlooked, cause for winter depression: Mold.
Edmond Shenassa, Brown University epidemiologist, who led a study on data collected from eight European cities, said that there was a link between depression and living in a home that had mold. According to the study published in the American Journal of Public Health, a mold score was created from resident and inspector-reported data. Depression was scored using an index of depressive symptoms. Shenassa’s research team found that people with moldy homes were 40% more likely to be depressed than those who did not have mold in their homes. This finding is not surprising since household mold has been found to be toxic to humans, causing neurological disorders of many different degrees.
The wet, stagnant air in winter months can bring about an increase of household mold, making winter the prime time for mold-related depression. The best way to avoid this type of depression is removal and prevention of mold throughout the home.
Avoiding mold growth in your home during moist winter months can be a challenge, but it can be done with a little perseverance.
First, keep the rooms in your home well ventilated. Use the ventilation fan in your bathroom during baths and showers or use the heat lamp to dry up any steam. Turn on the over-the-stove vent when cooking cold weather stews and soups to rid your home of the steam from the pots.
Eliminate all standing water. Condensation on walls and windowsills should be wiped dry on a regular basis to prevent mold growth. A dehumidifier is a good investment if you often find condensation around your home. It will bring humidity levels below 60% and eliminate the problem.
Carpets are an ideal home for mold. Clean up spills on carpets immediately, getting the area as dry as possible.
Getting Rid of Mold
Mold is usually identified as black, green, or dark discolorations on objects. It can be powdery, furry, of slick in texture depending on the type of mold and where it is growing. If you already have mold in your home, it can be removed with simple household products.
I asked Michael Dooley, the Vice President of the New Mexico chapter the American Society of Home Inspectors, for help. He suggests making a hydrogen peroxide solution to kill mold on non-porous surfaces. Combine one part hydrogen peroxide and three parts water in a spray bottle. Spray the mixture on the mold and wipe with a dry, disposable cloth.
Another household solution to mold, says Dooley, is to make a paste with borax powder and a little bit of water. Use the paste to scrub the surface infected with mold and rinse away the residue.
One chemical to avoid that is commonly used to battle mold is bleach. “Bleach does not kill mold,” says Dooley.
This winter, don’t let depression creep in with the cold and affect your freelance work. Make mold removal part of your winterizing routine to feel your best.