Electro-Magnetic Fields and Depression

The validity of several published investigations of the possibility that residential exposures to 50 Hz or 60 Hz electromagnetic fields might cause adverse psychological effects, such as suicide and depression, may have been limited by inadequate controlling for confounders or inadequate measurement of exposures. The researchers investigated the relationships between magnetic field exposure and psychological and mental health variables while controlling for potential confounders and accurate measurement of individual magnetic field exposures. Five-hundred-and-forty adults living near transmission lines completed neuropsychological tests for memory and attentional functioning, mental health rating scales and other questionnaires. Magnetic field measurements were taken in each room occupied for at least one hour per day to provide an estimate of total-time-integrated exposure. Performance on most memory and attention measures was unrelated to exposure, but significant dose-response relationships were found between exposure and some psychological and mental health variables. In particular, higher time-integrated exposure was associated with poorer coding-test performance and more adverse psychiatric symptomatology. These associations were found to be independent of participants' beliefs about effects of electromagnetic fields.

Psychological effects of chronic exposure to 50 Hz magnetic fields in humans living near extra-high-voltage transmission lines.

Beale IL, Pearce NE, Conroy DM, Henning MA, Murrell KA. Bioelectromagnetics 1997;18(8):584-594

From This Week in Alternative Medicine 05.04.98 10.