Psychiatrist Judy Tsafrir, M.D., wrote an article for her blog on her experiences with how deep breathing exercises in a moldy basement led her to become depressed and anxious as well as to experience chronic insomnia.
The article is called Toxic Mold and Psychiatric Symptoms.
In the article, Dr. Tsafrir wrote:
Illness related to mold exposure is something I had heard of but did not take to heart until recently. This fall I started Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training, which required a daily home practice. I set up my yoga props in a cozy corner of the carpeted finished basement and practiced there for at least an hour every day. Kundalini Yoga often involves long deep breathing as well as a rapid breath pattern called Breath of Fire. After about two weeks of inhaling the basement air, I began to feel an overwhelming heightened feeling of anxiety, profound depression and began to wake up multiple times throughout the night. There were no other symptoms. I was baffled as I could identify no obvious precipitant.
During this same time period, one of the readers of my blog wrote to me and mentioned that she had been diagnosed with toxic mold and thought I might be interested in the topic. She wrote “I bet that many of your psych pt’s have this mold based illness, and that you will love this info and find it very useful in your practice….” I wrote her back, thanked her, and said that it sounded really interesting and that I looked forward to learning more about it.
I don’t know why I stopped going down to the basement to do yoga. I must have been feeling too miserable to practice. But a few days later, my anxiety started to melt away, the depression lifted, and I started sleeping through the night. After three days I felt completely fine again. Suddenly I remembered the e-mail, reread it, and began to wonder if toxic mold had been causing me to feel so awful. The growth of toxic mold is initiated by water damage, and there had been flooding in my basement several years ago. Testing the basement revealed very high levels of mold. I now am in the process of contracting for remediation and trying to minimize going down there until it’s safe again.
The article then details other common mold symptoms and points to treatment resources for people who do not recover from the disease after getting away from the obvious exposure.
Links on this page are in orange (no underlining).