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Wearing too much perfume: A sign of depression?


clinical depressionIf you can't smell the roses, you may be depressed according to a recent article (January 3, 2008) at Science Daily.  Also, the article stated that if you smell too much like a rose yourself it may also indicate depression.  The article stated that scientists from Tel Aviv University have recently found a link between depression and a biological mechanism that may affect the olfactory glands.  This may explain why some women wear too much perfume without realizing it. 

This research reported in the Journal of Arthritis and Rheumatism has reported that "Our scientific findings suggest that women who are depressed are also losing their sense of smell, and may overcompensate by using more perfume," explained Professor Yehuda Shoenfeld, a researcher and member of the Sackler faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University.  He also stated that "We also believe that depression has biological roots and may be an immune system response to certain physiological cues." He stated that women who are depressed may be more susceptible to losing weight because of their reduced sense of smell ultimately reducing their appetite. 

Dr. Schoenfeld has drawn these conclusions from a lifetime of research on such autoimmune diseases as lupus, rheumatism and arthritis. Dr. Schoenfeld has found that depression is much more than an emotional reaction and appears to have a biological cause when accompanying lupus. 


Among lupus patients and individuals with autoimmune diseases, a particle known as an “autoantibody” is believed to attack the person's own immune system and may appear in the human body as an aberrant reaction to autoimmune diseases.  Dr. Schoenfeld stated, "We have found that, when generated, it weakens a person’s sense of smell and can induce the feeling of depression." 

It is a widely accepted fact among Alzheimer’s researchers that individuals with Alzheimer's disease lose their sense of smell.  However, Professor Schoenfeld’s research is the first to link depression to the sense of smell among patients with lupus.  The implications of this research are large however, in that they may also be applied to the general population according to Dr. Schoenfeld.  "People who are depressed seem to respond well to aromatherapy.  Certain smells seem to help them overcome the effects of the biological factors, suggesting that depression may have a biological cause." Professor Schoenfeld also has suggested that a standardized "smell test" could be used by doctors to help diagnose depression as well as autoimmune diseases.  Also, this research may raise a question as to current therapies which are used for other mental disorders such as schizophrenia. 

The use of the sense of smell may also have some implications for "smell marketing," which has been used by retailers to encourage shoppers to purchase, especially around the holidays.  "These tactics are already being used by retailers and banks all over the world," says Professor Schoenfeld. "The retail industry has learned that if it splashes good smells around, it can convince clients to buy more and invest more money.  It certainly has an effect on one's mood." 

Professor Schoenfeld is a medical doctor and an internationally recognized expert on autoimmune diseases.  He is also the head of the Department of Medicine "B" at the Sheba Medical Center in Israel, and edits such medical journals as Harefua (in Hebrew), the Journal of Autoimmunity, Autoimmunity Reviews and Israel Medical Association Journal.  This study was done in collaboration with Professor Joab Chapman, the head of Neurology Department at Sheba Medical Center, and a professor at Tel Aviv University. 

Article adapted from Science Daily (January 5, 2008) Wearing Too Much Perfume May Indicate Depression. From

Information and webpage by Paul Susic  MA Licensed Psychologist   Ph.D. Candidate  (Health and Geriatric Psychologist

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