Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A Smell Test for Depression?

tidbits that tantalizeNah - I Don't Smell a Thing...

Will you one day, in the foreseeable future, be diagnosed by the sensitivity of your nostrils? Will the ability to detect certain aromas indicate whether you have Alzheimer's? Will psychologists administer a Doake's Aroma Assessment of Depression?


Researchers at Tel Aviv University suggest this may be the case. Prof. Yehuda Shoenfeld, a physician who specializes in autoimmune diseases, believes there may be an underlying biological root to depression. His recent research indicates the olfactory system, our sense of smell, may be a reasonable marker for depression.

"Our scientific findings suggest that women who are depressed are also losing their sense of smell," explains Prof. Shoenfeld. He says one result of this process is women using too much perfume.

Prof. Shoenfeld discovered that patients with autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, have a weakened sense of smell. He attributes this to the body's reaction to particles known as "autoantibodies," which cause the body to attack itself. He says this physical process also induces a sense of depression and, as a result, Prof. Shoenfeld believes a reevaluation of the root causes of many psychotic disorders is necessary.

"People who are depressed seem to respond well to aromatherapy. There may be an organic cause to these disorders, and if this is the case, clinicians might have to change their attitude about current therapies they use," Prof. Shoenfeld says.

So, pay attention to your sense of smell. It may have some quite interesting things to say to you.

To read more about the research, see this from ScienceDaily. To learn more about aromatherapy, see this from The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy.


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