Most of us associate vitamin D with spending enough time in the sun. It’s a fat-soluble vitamin that helps your body retain calcium, reduce inflammation, and potentially reduce cancer cell growth.
However, in short supply, vitamin D can be linked to mental health conditions like depression. Your body makes vitamin D when it’s exposed to sunlight. Although there are plenty of foods that contain it, too, if you’re not getting enough of it, you could feel the negative toll it takes on your mental well-being.
If you’re already prone to depression, a lack of vitamin D can indeed make your symptoms worse.
Let’s take a closer look at vitamin D’s role in depression, why it matters, and what you can do to boost your intake.
Depression and Vitamin D Deficiencies
While more research still needs to be done on the effects of vitamin D on mental health, there have been multiple studies on the connection between people with low levels of vitamin D and those with depression. It’s been found that women who struggle with postpartum depression are often deficient in vitamin D, as well as people who struggle with depression from physical health conditions. Nevertheless, some studies have been inconclusive regarding the connection between vitamin D and mental health conditions.
Some people are at a greater risk of vitamin D deficiencies than others. For example, if you have limited sun exposure, your body might not be producing enough vitamin D. However, things like age, your diet, where you live, and even your skin color can all play a role in vitamin D deficiencies.
If you’re worried you might have low levels, pay attention to common symptoms, including aching bones, fatigue, and weak muscles and joints.
You might also experience some common symptoms of depression, including:
- Feelings of sadness or irritability
- Changes in sleeping or eating habits
- Loss of interest in things you enjoy
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Aches and pains
In some cases, depression can also lead to thoughts of self-harm or suicide. If you’re experiencing those thoughts, it’s essential to reach out for help right away.
Overall, Vitamin D appears to be beneficial for those suffering from depression. It may help to reduce symptoms and improve overall well-being. However, more research is needed to confirm the full extent of its benefits.
Don’t Count Out Seasonal Depression
While it’s clear that vitamin D plays a role in depression for some, it’s also important to consider the time of year when vitamin D production is likely at its lowest. Many people struggle with seasonal depression, and a lot of it stems from a lack of sunlight throughout the day.
Depending on where you live, the days might seem “shorter” and darker. Not only does that mean fewer vitamin D creation opportunities, but it can contribute to feelings of tiredness, a lack of motivation, and depression.
How to Treat a Vitamin D Deficiency
If you’re struggling with depression, the best thing you can do is get to the underlying cause. A therapist can help with that. You’ll get to the root of your feelings so you can start feeling like yourself again.
However, if you think your depression or the worsening of your symptoms is due to a lack of vitamin D, consider a combination of treatment options.
Spend as much time outside as possible, choose foods rich in vitamins, and consider taking a supplement (consult a medical professional to see if taking supplements is right for you).
Additionally, take the time to manage your symptoms by practicing self-care. Exercise regularly and lean on your friends and family members.
It’s also still a good idea to consider therapy to manage your depression, no matter the cause. You don’t have to struggle with the effects of depression on your own. Feel free to contact us to set up an appointment.
The effects of a vitamin D deficiency won’t last forever if you take charge. But, working to manage your depression with a professional will help you better understand your emotions and how to handle them for years to come.