Does a Sudden Withdrawal of Vitamins Cause Depression?

A sudden withdrawal of vitamins, whether from crash dieting or a lack of healthy food, can cause a range of symptoms of poor health, creating conditions where you are more vulnerable to depression. Depression is a serious illness with complicated origins. While not yet completely understood, it often involves a combination of psychological, environmental and biological factors. Getting enough vitamins is important to recovering from depression, but a sudden withdrawal of vitamins would not be the sole factor to cause it.

A woman depressed looking woman behind a rain covered window. Credit: James Peragine/Hemera/Getty Images

About Vitamins

While a sudden withdrawal of vitamins might not directly cause depression, it weakens your body and mind, putting you at risk for developing the disease. Vitamins are essential for your health, growth and functioning. The 13 vitamins essential for your health are A, C, D, E, K and the B complex, including B-6, B-12, folate, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and biotin. You can get all of the vitamins you need by eating a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, such as the one recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Vegetarians may require a B-12 supplement, as this vitamin commonly comes from animal products. Suddenly cutting vitamins from your diet would strain your physical, mental and emotional well-being and put you at risk for a range of serious illnesses, including depression.

Causes of Depression

Depression is an insidious, life-threatening mental illness that goes beyond feeling a little sad. Depressed people withdraw socially and stop doing activities they enjoy. They might experience complications related to eating and sleeping and can be suicidal. A crisis can spark depression, or it can develop slowly over time. A combination of factors that might include poor physical health, a history of trauma, excessive stress, persistent negative thoughts and biological factors are among the possible causes of depression. A sudden withdrawal of vitamins could leave you in poor physical and mental health, more vulnerable to the effects of the stressors related to depression. However, doctors do not completely understand the origins of this disease. If you suffer from depression, whatever the cause, it is important to talk to your doctor to develop a treatment plan.

Depression and Vitamins

Deficiencies in vitamin B-12 or other B vitamins might link to depression, but at the time of publication, research does not implicate a lack of vitamin B as an exclusive origin of the problem. Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those in cold-water fish, might play a role in mitigating symptoms of depression. Again, however, doctors do not believe deficiencies are the cause of the disease. A healthy, well-balanced diet with adequate vitamins is important to recovering from depression, whatever its cause. Eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and protein and limiting sugar, saturated fat and alcohol intake can help you manage symptoms and reach your treatment goals.

Vitamin Withdrawal Risks

A sudden withdrawal of vitamins can cause illness, exhaustion and weaken your immune system, making you more vulnerable to various diseases. For example, a lack of vitamin D puts you at risk for developing rickets, while vitamin A aids vision and prevents night blindness. Developing a vitamin-deficiency illness, or feeling weak, tired, hungry and foggy from vitamin withdrawal can cause you to function poorly at work, avoid social activities, stop exercising and develop sleeping problems. Your decline in functioning could prompt a depressive episode and might lead to ongoing depression problems. Whether this would happen depends on your circumstances, including the kind of care you solicit and receive. Ultimately, a sudden withdrawal of vitamins puts you in a high-risk situation, leaving you vulnerable to physical and mental duress.

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