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Depression News: Sleep, vitamin D help depression

Depression news: Get sunshine or vitamin D to prevent depression

Both sleep and vitamin D may help reduce depression risk, two studies suggest.

A small trial in the Aug 2009 issue of Applied Nursing Research finds that taking vitamin d supplements may help prevent depression.

C. D. Shipowick  of Washington State University in Richland, Washington and colleagues reported that women who took vitamin D supplements experienced a decline in the Beck Depression Inventory -II scores.

BDI-II is a 21 item self-report instrument to assess the existence and severity of symptoms of depression listed in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fourth Edition (DSM-IV; 1994), according to the Medical University of South Carolina.

Early studies have already indicated that vitamin D supplementation may decrease depression symptoms during the winter months.

In the trial, the researchers gave nine women whose serum vitamin D was below 40 ng/mL vitamin d3 supplements.  Six women completed the BDI-II and had their serum vitamin D levels tested again after the study.

Vitamin D supplementation not only raised the serum levels of this sunshine vitamin in the study subjects by an average of 27 ng/mL, but also reduced the BDI-II scores by an average of 10 points.

The researchers wrote “this study suggests that supplemental vitamin D3 reduces depression symptoms.”

It has been observed that people in the winter time are more likely to feel depressed, suggesting that sunshine may have something to do with depression.  When people do not get enough exposure to the UV rays, they tend to be vitamin D deficient. This means that vitamin D deficiency may be a risk factor for depression.

Dr. John Cannell, director of Vitamin D Council, says "If you suffer from depression, get your 25(OH)D level checked and, if it is lower than 35 ng/mL (87 nM/L), you are vitamin D deficient and should begin treatment."

Depression news: Sufficient sleep may help teenagers cut depression risk

One study found teenagers who slept 5 or fewer hours a day regularly were at 71 percent increased risk of depression and at a 48 percent increased risk of thoughts of suicide compared to those who had sufficient sleep.

We do not know if teens with insufficient sleep took any antidepressants, which have been observed to increase risk of suicidal thoughts.  The association between sleep deficiency and depression does not suggest that getting enough sleep would definitely relieve depressive symptoms.

The study published in the Jan 1, 2010 issue of the journal Sleep showed teenagers who set bedtimes midnight or later were 24 percent more likely to experience depression and 20 percent more likely to have thoughts of suicide compared to those who going to bed before 10 pm or earlier.

The study was conducted by James E. Gangwisch, Ph.D. of Columbia University Medical Center in New York who said the inadequate sleep is a risk factor for depression.

By Jimmy Downs