Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Vitamin B and Depression

Mental health experts have studied the connection between chronic illness and depression. Correctly diagnosing and treating a particular condition means understanding its definition. The definitions of different psychological disorders are in a state of constant change.

Currently there are 3 generally recognized types of clinical depression:

1. Major Depression
2. Dysthemia
3. Bipolar Disorder

In its broadest definition, depression is the result of overwhelming thoughts such as anxiety, fear, pessimism, or helplessness being turned inward on oneself. The specific causes of a depressive disorder or event may not be clearly pinpointed, but in all cases of clinical depression, there is an underlying problem with the brain's chemistry. When depression is concurrent with chronic illness, determining whether one causes the other can be difficult.

There is evidence that illness triggers depression. There is also evidence that shows depression leads to illness. Elissa Sonnenberg's article, "Depression and Chronic Illness: Which Comes First" explains how the body and mind interact.

Many patients with CF experience depression, but what causes the depression? Based on what the medical community knows about the links between vitamin deficiencies and depression, one can reasonably assume that vitamin deficiency may play a role in the mental health of cystic fibrosis patients.

Proper diet and nutrition is essential for people with CF; not only because it enables the body to fight of infection more easily, but because the brain needs to be in good health. Health care professionals agree that complex carbohydrates are necessary for optimal brain function. Things such as whole-grain breads, cereals and pasta serve as an excellent source of B vitamins, which deliver a supply of amino acids to the brain.

The brain is responsible for our moods, muscle function, thoughts and emotions. A healthy brain is essential for a healthy body. Although the details of how diet and mental health are connected are not fully known, there is an undeniable link between the two. For example, foods like soy beans and liver have the potential to improve brain function in people with mood disorders. Unfortunately, much of what we know on this subject is more along the lines of what not to do, rather than what to do.

The vitamin of greatest concern in the treatment and understanding of depression, is vitamin B12. Commonly known as folate, vitamin B12 is responsible for the production of neurostransmitters. It also regulates mood. The Mayo Clinic reports that poor nutrition is the leading cause of vitamin B12 deficiency. The inability of the body to properly break down food to obtain nutrients complicates this potential solution. In other words, the answer for cystic fibrosis patients may not be found in just adding a B12 vitamin to the diet.

For more information, please read the article "A Shot in Time Saves Mind" by Syd Baumel

Additional resources:

Is Depression a Vitamin Deficiency?

How Do Vitamin Supplements Help Cystic fibrosis

Effective Diets Must Consider the Mind Along with the Body

Why Vitamin Supplements are Essential for Health

Vitamin Deficiency, Folate, and Depression

Vitamin for Depression?

1 comment:

Chloe said...

For those struggling with B12 deficiency, I recently heard about a new oral prescription alternative to the injections called Eligen B12. I recently read that it works even if you don't have intrinsic factor (so even if you don't have normal gut absorption). Apparently it came out a month or two ago. Has anyone heard of it or tried it??