The psyche and the body cannot be separated easily – a fact which has been clear to scientists for some time. Mental diseases such as depression have their roots among other things in physical processes such as brain chemistry and the interactions of hormones, with nutrients such as vitamins also seeming to play a role.
Interactions between body and psyche occur in both directions. Depression for instance can be manifested by physical symptoms, headache, backache, dizziness and weight loss. Often, they also impact the stomach and lead to digestive problems, flatulence and abdominal pain. Against this, however, the causes of depression lie partly within the body: Nutritional deficiencies and hormone fluctuations can impact on the psyche.
And this makes depression more likely
Researchers have studied the links between depression and low vitamin D levels in recent years. The “sun” vitamin is also involved in the production of the “happiness” hormone serotonin. People with depression revealed conspicuously low vitamin D levels in some studies, while in other studies, vitamin D deficiency was associated with depressed mood. Research is currently underway to determine whether vitamin D supplements can relieve the symptoms of depression.
Also, a deficiency of vitamin B12 has often been found in people with depression. Vitamin B12 is involved in blood formation, contributes significantly to the protection of nerve cells, and is therefore essential for the health of the brain.
It is not for nothing that cortisol is called a stress hormone. In dangerous situations it is released so that the body can cope with extreme stress. If in everyday life we suffer from chronic stress this can cause the cortisol levels to become derailed. The consequence is then often: Burnout and depression.
Other hormones are also related to depression. A testosterone deficiency, for example, is often expressed by depressive moods. With the “happiness” hormone serotonin, on the other hand, scientists are still in dispute: Serotonin levels are indeed too low in people with depression. However, many experts believe that this is more a symptom than a cause of depression.
Does a depression test exist?
Obviously, depression cannot be determined using a simple test, and this in fact requires a psychotherapist or psychiatric specialist who conducts a detailed interview about the patient’s history. There are, however, several parameters which, along with the duration and frequency of symptoms such as lethargy, depression, and negative thoughts, may be a first indication of depression. These include the aforementioned vitamins D and B12 and the hormones testosterone and cortisol. The levels of these vitamins and hormones can be measured using cerascreen® self-tests. For this, you should take a small sample of blood or saliva at home, which will then be evaluated by a specialist laboratory.
With slight depression and mood swings sometimes even small changes in everyday life can bring improvements: more exercise and mindfulness, stress reduction and relaxation. However, if you are suffering from actual clinical depression you should seek professional help. If your values point towards depression you should seek medical attention. A GP might then be your first point of contact who will then refer you to a psychotherapist or psychiatrist.