The Ability to Smell Linked to Depression

You may not realize how many shared experiences hinge on your ability to smell. Without it you cannot know what the smell of coffee in the morning can mean, and you are exempted from the pleasures of summer lilac bushes or baking apple pies.

A new study from Germany reveals that people who are born without the factory ability to smell often feel socially insecure and are more prone to become depressed.

Most people who cannot smell were able to do so at one time in their life. Some, however, are born with a condition known as isolated congenital anosmia (ICA), meaning that from birth onward they have been without the ability to smell.

If you give it much thought, it is easy to see how the lack of smell could be stressful. Individuals without a sense of smell do not know if they have poor body odor when they are out socially or, more importantly, if the house is on fire when they are home alone. At the same time, they are unable to make social comments on the nicety of grandma’s perfume or the bouquet of roses on the table.

For a time, some ICA sufferers may lie about smelling in order to fit in socially. Eventually, most confess their problem and make adjustments. Not all adjustments are positive however.

The German study found that people who lack the ability to smell tend to eat alone and to feel isolated in general. As many as 14 million Americans experience some interruption in their ability to smell.

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