Interior water features are quickly increasing in popularity in North America. Today, an impressive array of beautiful models of indoor water fountains are showing up in homes throughout the country. However, appearances are not the sole reason for the recent interior fountain popularity. Indoor fountains are also gaining interest for their mood-changing qualities. Interior fountains as a treatment for depression? It might not be as far fetched as it sounds.
Indoor fountains give off airborne particles called negative ions. As you might recall from high school chemistry class, a negative ion is a molecule that has dropped one or more electrons, and consequently has a negative charge. For water fountains the negative ions are airborne water molecules created by the turbulence in an indoor fountain. The negative ions can have some very positive effects. Negative ions, due to their electrical charge, adhere to harmful particles in the environment, eliminating air-borne pollutants such as dust and smoke particles. Furthermore many scientists now believe that negative ions, like those generated by an indoor water fountain, may also have a strong effect on mood.
A scientific study at Columbia University confirmed that inhaling negative ions, like those created by indoor fountains, can increase the production of serotonin, the neurotransmitter tied to feelings. Individuals with clinical depression produce abnormally very low levels of serotonin. Because of this, most antidepressant medications counteract the disorder by increasing serotonin levels.
You can easily imagine serotonin as “joy juice”; the more you have, the happier you are. Additional research is necessary, but ion therapy may provide an alternate therapy for depression, by raising serotonin levels without the hazardous side effects associated with most anti-depressant prescription drugs.
As with all preliminary research findings, this one has its limitations. It is unclear what size of an indoor fountain would be required to yield useful levels of negative ions. The research is still in its early stages. What is clear, nonetheless, is that no indoor water feature will hurt. Even a small indoor water feature, with its soothing white noise, is sure to brighten up your surroundings… and perhaps your disposition as well.