Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is an anxiety-based mental health condition brought on by experiencing a traumatic event. Trauma may include direct involvement in war-related combat, suffering any form of abuse or witnessing a perceived dangerous or unexpected event such as the death of a loved one, says the National Institute of Mental Health. Symptoms of PTSD are categorized as inducing avoidance, hyperarousal or re-experiencing. Survivors of trauma often have difficulty sleeping, become depressed with excessive fear of impending doom and relive the traumatic event as flashbacks. Treatment for PTSD involves medications to balance mood and decrease anxiety symptoms. Additionally psychotherapy is important for PTSD survivors to gain coping skills, because the overwhelming symptoms can cause isolation and an inability to function in daily activities.
Vitamins for PTSD
According to the University of California at Berkeley, vitamin therapy is a form of alternative treatment focused on using megadoses of certain vitamins as intervention for physical or mental health disturbance. Vitamins are essential to your body to aid in the regulation of brain chemicals and hormones. People with PTSD experience greater degrees of depression and stress on the body; this affects the desire to eat healthy to get necessary daily nutrients. The premise behind vitamin therapy for PTSD is to saturate your body with micronutrients to stimulate an increase of serotonin, a brain neurotransmitter with a primary role in mood and fear. Megadose vitamin treatment for PTSD is not deemed clinically effective as a sole treatment and is not intended to replace a traditional medicinal approach.
Vitamins for Depression Symptoms
Depression in PTSD is experienced at different levels of severity, but this symptom is prominent for most survivors. Depression includes feelings of excessive worry, guilt and thoughts of self harm. Loss of desire to engage in once-enjoyed activities, easy frustration and a sense of feeling on edge also accompany this symptom. Vitamin B12 plays a role in producing the chemicals involved in regulating mood. MayoClinic.com indicates that depression is helped by using vitamin B12. However, it is unknown whether this vitamin helps because of a pre-existing deficiency, poor nutrition habits or the actual disorder. A daily diet of foods containing vitamin B12 may reduce depression related to PTSD, or you can opt for a supplement combined with a nutritious diet.
Vitamins for Sleep Symptoms
PTSD survivors often have difficulty sleeping regularly because of flashbacks or fear of re-traumatization. Sleep is essential to regenerating your neurotransmitters and brain health. Lack of sleep also increases irritability, feelings of fatigue and depression, says the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. According to Holistic Online, vitamins B1, B3 and B6 help calming your nerves to induce sleep. These vitamins are significant for metabolizing nutrients from food so you have energy during the day to conduct regular activities and improve your chances of relaxing at night to fall asleep.
Vitamin Sources and Intake
According to the Linus Pauling Institute, the following doses and upper limits for vitamins B1, B3, B6 and B12 are recommended as safe for daily intake. Daily recommended intake of vitamin B1 is 1.2mg with no upper limit. Natural sources of vitamin B1 include one slice of whole wheat bread at .10mg or 3 oz. of lean pork at .72mg. Vitamin B3 daily recommended intake is 14mg to 16mg with an upper limit of 35mg. Sources of vitamin B3 include 3 oz. chicken at 7.3mg or 3 oz. of tuna at 11.3mg. Vitamin B6 daily intake is 1.3mg with an upper limit of 100mg. Sources of B3 include one banana at .43mg or 1 cup cooked spinach at .44mg. Vitamin B12 daily intake is 2.4mcg with no upper limit. Sources of B12 include salmon at 2.4mcg and 8 oz. milk at .9mcg.
- MayoClinic.com: What is the Relationship Between Vitamin B-12 and Depression?
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: Your Guide to Healthy Sleep
- Holistic Online: Vitamin Therapy for Anxiety
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamins
- University of California Berkeley: Megavitamin Therapy
- PubMed Central: Vitamins and Sleep: An Exploratory Study; January 2008