Depression is a serious mental illness that affects millions of people worldwide. It can lead to decreased productivity, social isolation, and even suicide. In recent years, scientists have been exploring different ways to treat depression, including vitamin D supplements.
A new study published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition has shown that adults with a history of depression who take vitamin D supplements experience a reduction in their depressive symptoms.
The symptoms of depression
Depression is a debilitating disease with a wide range of symptoms. These can include:
- Persistent feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness
- Angry outbursts, irritability, or frustration over small matters
- Loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease with treatment
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Unfortunately, the incidence of depression is on the rise, with the World Health Organization estimating that 300 million people suffer from the disease. Depression is now the leading cause of disability worldwide.
There are many different treatment options for depression, including therapy, medication, and self-care. But one promising option that has been receiving more attention in recent years is vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin D and depression
Vitamin D is a nutrient that is essential for good health. It helps the body absorb calcium, which is necessary for strong bones and teeth. Vitamin D also plays an important role in immunity, cell growth, and inflammation.
The vitamin is found in foods such as eggs, fatty fish, and mushrooms. It can also be made by the body when skin is exposed to sunlight. However, many people do not get enough vitamin D from their diet or from exposure to sunlight. This is especially true in winter months, when there is less sunlight. In fact, vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the world.
The results of the new study
Recent studies have found that vitamin D deficiency is linked to a variety of mental health problems, including depression. One theory is that vitamin D deficiency disrupts the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in mood regulation.
Serotonin is sometimes referred to as the “happy hormone” because it is associated with feelings of well-being and happiness. The corollary, of course, is that low levels of serotonin are linked to depression.
The new study published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition looked at 41 trials that examined the link between vitamin D and depression. The findings showed that adults with a history of depression who took vitamin D supplements experienced a reduction in their depressive symptoms.
The researchers believe that vitamin D could be an effective treatment for depression, especially for people who are resistant to other treatments. However, more research is needed to confirm these findings.
“Despite the broad scope of this meta-analysis, the certainty of evidence remains low due to the heterogeneity of the populations studied and the due to the risk of bias associated with a large number of studies. These findings will encourage new, high-level clinical trials in patients with depression in order to shed more light on the possible role of vitamin D supplementation in the treatment of depression.”Lead author Tuomas Mikola of the University of Eastern Finland
If you are interested in trying vitamin D supplements to alleviate your depression, talk to your doctor about whether they are right for you. Vitamin D is available over the counter, but it is important to speak with a medical professional before starting any new supplement. Depression is a serious condition, and it should be treated by a trained mental health professional.
Important information for anyone struggling with suicidal thoughts
If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please act immediately. Contact a mental health professional or call a suicide hotline in your area.
In the United States, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, as well as prevention and crisis resources.
You can call the Lifeline at +1 800 273 8255. They also have a chat function on their website that you can use if you do not feel like talking.
In Canada, the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention provides resources and support to those affected by suicide.
In the United Kingdom you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Helpline or call them on 0800 689 5652.
If you are in another country, please visit this page for a list of international suicide hotlines.
For Further Reading
The following posts will be useful if you or someone you love is struggling with Depression.
- Freezing out depression – the psychological benefits of a cold shower
- Bright Light Therapy – a promising cure for depression
- Smiling Depression: what you need to know about this serious condition
- New Study shows how Pokemon GO could help improve Depression
- Anxiety vs. Depression: How to Tell the Difference and Get Help
- Is Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation effective in reducing depression symptoms?
- Depression Room Cleaning: The New Trend on TikTok that boosts our Mental Health
- Seasonal Depression: What Is It, Symptoms, and What To Do About It
- Dance and movement therapy holds promise for treating anxiety and depression
- The Devastating Impact of Smoking on Your Mental Health
- Vitamin D Supplements Shown to Alleviate Depression in Adults
- The use of genetic testing to help patients with acute depression
- The Devastating Psychological Impact of Facebook Identity Theft
- How to Help Your Partner Who is Struggling with Depression: Tips for Supporting Your Loved One
- The Pain of Loneliness: The Physical Symptoms and What You Can Do to Feel Better
- Gardening – A Fun and Healthy Way to Lower Stress, Anxiety and Depression
- How to Help a Friend Struggling with Depression – 10 Useful Tips
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