Environmental illnesses have psychological origins

Environmental pollutants have been blamed for myriad health problems, many as difficult to treat as they are to define. A study by German researchers suggests what critics of ailments such as multiple chemical sensitivity have long contended: that such problems have psychological origins.

Dr. Hermann Ebel, director of the Hospital for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy/Psychosomatic Medicine in Ludwigsburg, Germany looked at patients who blamed their symptoms on environmental pollutants. According to Ebel, 60 percent of the study subjects had mental disorders.

Acknowledging the psychological basis of such ailments is critical for effective treatment of the patients, which may require antidepressents or other psychoactive drugs. It also supports employers and manufacturers of numerous products blamed—unfairly, they say--for bringing on these mysterious "environmental illnesses."

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