Vitamin D Deficiency and Depression

Do you sometimes feel miserable or sad or both? Most of the time, these feelings last for a week or two and hardly interfere with your day-to-day lives. However, if you have such feelings for weeks or months, then they can start interfering with your daily life.

Depression is not merely feeling blue, it becomes a serious yet treatable illness when it lasts for weeks together and interferes with your ability to resume normal life. This is what can be broadly termed as clinical depression.

Depression can differ from mild to severe. Mild depression doesn’t usually affect your everyday life, though the work may feel less enjoyable. Whereas, severe depression can be life-threatening, because it may lead to suicide or the person may give up the will to live.

According to a World Health Organization-sponsored study, the leading cause of frailty worldwide is depression, affecting about 121 million people. Similarly, in India, around 9% of people are reported having an extended period of depression within their lifetime, whereas nearly 36% suffered from what is known as Major Depressive Episode (MDE). The symptoms of MDE are: loss of interest or desire, sadness, disturbed sleep or appetite, poor concentration and low energy, feelings of guilt or low self-esteem, besides feeling depressed.

Vitamin D is important for good bone health and plays an important role in the brain development of a person. Researchers are now learning that Vitamin D could play a vital role in depression and overall mental health.  Emerging studies indicate that Vitamin D deficiency and depression might be linked. The areas of your brain that are connected to depression are acted upon by Vitamin D. The receptors for Vitamin D have been found in many parts of the brain. For this very reason, depression has been linked with Vitamin D and other mental health disorders. But how exactly Vitamin D works in your brain is not yet entirely understood by researchers. One theory is that Vitamin D affects the amount of chemicals known as monoamines (like serotonin) and how they function in your brain. Lots of anti-depressant medicines work by increasing the number of monoamines in your brain. Therefore, researchers have hinted that Vitamin D may also increase the amount of monoamines, which directly has an effect on depression.

In a few research studies, the quantity of Vitamin D has been much less than that of the 5000 IU a day that is the usual recommended dose of Vitamin D. A small dose might affect whether there is any result on the symptoms of depression, the study concludes. Some studies have also suggested that only when someone has very low Vitamin D levels in their body, the Vitamin D supplements might work for depression. Whereas, people who already have good vitamin D levels may not get affected much by taking Vitamin D supplements.

Since it a relatively new area of research, it’s hard to say with any conviction what role Vitamin D plays in treating or preventing depression.

If you wish to start supplementation, it is best to consult your doctor for the best results.

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