A dangerous link: Toxic chemicals and depressionMental Health
By pH health care professionals
Depression is a serious mental illness associated with decreased work productivity, greater risk of suicide and physical health conditions such as heart disease and low thyroid functioning. An estimated 1 in 10 U.S. adults suffers from depression, and no one knows what exactly causes it, with theories ranging from biochemical imbalance, to stress, to genetic predisposition.
Recently, however, depression has been linked to a relatively new phenomenon: exposure to a wide array of toxins. Studies showed that certain environmental and chemical toxins may alter the brain in ways that help set depression in motion. Toxins can come from insecticides, herbicides, personal care products and thousands of other industrial and household chemicals. Here are a few to watch out for:
- Pesticides. Research shows pesticide exposure may lead to depression, anxiety and psychiatric disorders. The most typical source of pesticide exposure for the average American is the conventionally grown food they put on their plates daily.
- Heavy metals. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the three substances that have the greatest impact on human health are mercury, lead and arsenic, and exposure to these toxic metals are known to cause anxiety and/or depression. You can trace the origins of these particular toxins to industrial factories, dental amalgams, welding equipment, cigarette smoke and old galvanized water pipes. Heavy metal toxicity can disturb your brain chemistry causing depression and anxiety; it can also significantly weaken the immune system.
- Prescription drugs. Medications sometimes alter the brain chemistry, and certain medications have been shown to trigger depressive symptoms.
There are so many factors that can cause or contribute to depression. So if what you are doing is not working, it may be appropriate to consider whether environmental toxicity is an underlying cause. You should try to avoid toxins by using non-toxic products, buying organic products and living a healthy lifestyle. And don’t forget to get your heavy metal levels tested so you can objectively determine whether toxicity plays a role in your feelings of depression.
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