More than 300 million people in the world suffer from depression — that’s about the size of the population of the United States. Depression is also connected to substance abuse. In fact, about two in 10 Americans who have anxiety, depression or other mood disorders also suffer from some form of substance abuse. Recent scientific studies have shown there’s a link between depression and low levels of Vitamin D in the blood. Does this mean supplements can treat depression? Let’s find out.
The Role of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for your health. It helps you maintain healthy bones and tissues, and prevents infections and autoimmune diseases. This vitamin also plays a role in mental health by helping your neurons function properly. Researchers know there’s a connection between vitamin D and depression. But they don’t know if vitamin D supplementation can cure depression.
About 1 billion people in the world have low vitamin levels. You get D from your diet (if you eat foods like fatty fish, cheese and vitamin D fortified milk) and from exposure to sunlight (5-30 minutes a day). If you think you don’t get enough sun exposure (let’s say you work night shifts) you should probably have your vitamin level checked. Your doctor may then recommend supplements if you aren’t receiving enough exposure on your own.
Can Vitamin D Treat Depression?
There’s been a lot of research on vitamin D and depression, but so far the results are mixed. Some studies have suggested that vitamin D supplements may treat depression in patients with low vitamin D levels. Other studies don’t recommend vitamin D supplementation for treating depression.
Researchers aren’t completely sure whether low levels of vitamin D cause depression or whether depression lowers vitamin levels. But they agree that they need more studies to reach a conclusion, and this type of research is very appreciated as depression is something that many individuals suffer with.
Current treatments for depression include medication and therapy (such as cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT). If your doctor has given you anti-depressants, we’re not telling you to take vitamin supplements instead as they’re not a cure for depression. But it can’t hurt to maintain good levels of D in your body through sun exposure or additional supplements. Your mood will also improve if you spend some time in the sun, maybe doing yoga. With an average of 299 sunny days a year, Scottsdale, Arizona, is one of the sunniest places in the U.S. Spending some time here will help keep your vitamin D levels up.
Don’t Rely on Supplements as a Treatment for Depression
Scientists don’t know if vitamin D is an effective treatment for depression, so rely on your mental health professionals to recommend a therapy for depression and addiction. At Scottsdale Recovery Center we’ve developed rehab programs specifically for patients with dual diagnosis. If you or a loved one is struggling from depression and/or mood disorders, call us today and find out more about our programs.
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