Ever since I can remember, I have never had an issue asking for help. When I was thirteen, I demanded my mom take me to the psychiatrist because I had diagnosed myself with major depression and social anxiety disorder. It wasn’t shameful for me to have these diagnoses; they were simply a problem and I needed to get them fixed. When the psychiatrist inquired about what brought me in that day, I explained to her the disorders I had diagnosed myself with and pleaded for medication. She looked at me doubtfully… but by the end of the intake session, I was indeed diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, major depression, and generalized anxiety disorder. That’s when I was prescribed my first antidepressant.
It has been a long journey filled with side effects and disappointments. I have what’s known as treatment-resistant depression. This means my depression does not improve, and actually often worsens, when I take antidepressants. I have been on about 10 different medications. While the reactions vary, they all impacted my ability to live “normally” in some way. One medication caused me to have constant nightmares. Some made my anxiety tenfold. The last one I tried caused me to cyclically shut down for days at a time and to become viciously suicidal. It’s disheartening when you spend years openly receiving help without any relief.
I recently have decided to take matters into my own hands by experimenting with holistic treatments, although I will continue experimenting with different classes of antidepressants in the meantime. The first step I took was incorporating vitamins into my diet because some vitamin deficiencies have been shown to increase the severity of anxiety and depression. Above is a picture of all the pills I take on a nightly basis: 2000 I.U. of vitamin D, 10000 mcg biotin, a complex B vitamin, 30mg beta-carotene, 1000 mg vitamin C, a multivitamin, and 40mg Prozac.
So how do these contribute to my mental health recovery?
- According to blood test results, I have very low vitamin D levels. This deficiency can lead to depressed mood and lethargy.
- I take biotin and a complex B vitamin for both anxiety and depression. These vitamins also support heart health, which is essential as anxiety and panic attacks can negatively affect the heart.
- Beta-carotene and vitamin C enhance my immune system. Having anxiety releases the fight or flight chemical called cortisol. Cortisol hinders your immune system because when you’re in survival mode, all of your energy is needed for the parts of your body required for fight or flight (i.e. muscles, mind, heart). This means I’m constantly getting sick, which exacerbates mental health problems and increases the amount of days of work I miss.
- Lastly, I’m currently experimenting with Prozac. Although it wasn’t helpful for my depression in the past, I am taking it to treat my newer diagnosis of pure-obsessional OCD. It is not yet at a high enough dose to be effective in treating OCD, so we will see what the future holds…
Have you found any vitamins helpful in your mental health recovery? I would love to hear from you!
note: photo by me