Nov 12, 2014

Pesticides blamed for clinical depression in farmers

Seven pesticides, including some that are very common, are triggering clinical depression among US farmers, a 20-year study released by the US National Institutes of Health has indicated.

The study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that farmers who used organochlorines - one of two categories of the seven pesticides - to eradicate insects, weeds, and fungi were up to 90 percent more likely to have been diagnosed with depression. Farmers who employed widely-used fumigants, the other category, were up to 80 percent more likely to suffer from depression. The study was first published last month.

To investigate any connections between depression and pesticide use, the NIH researchers interviewed about 84,000 farmers and spouses of farmers beginning in the mid-1990s.

"There had been scattered reports in the literature that pesticides were associated with depression," Dr. Freya Kamel, the lead researcher for the study, told Modern Farmer. "We wanted to do a new study because we had more detailed data than most people have access to."

One common pesticide among the seven analyzed by NIH was malathion, used by 67 percent of the farmers involved in the study. Malathion is banned in Europe.

The researchers found that only 8 percent of farmers surveyed said they has sought treatment for depression, which is below the 10 percent of Americans who have reached out for professional help.

"We didn't have to deal with overreporting [of depression] because we weren't seeing that," Kamel told Modern Farmer.

Still, seeking treatment for depression is not the same as actually suffering from it.

Please continue reading from— RT USA