Mental illness is a disorder that influences the way a person behaves, feels and thinks about themselves and others. In today's world it is common knowledge that the symptoms of mental illness can range from mild to severe leaving a person unable to cope with life's daily routines.
Research over the past several decades have revealed that although the exact cause of most mental illnesses is not known, it is clear that many of these conditions are caused by a combination of biological, heredity (genetic), psychological trauma, and environmental stressors factors.
Most recently research is revealing that extreme deficiencies of vitamin D also may have significant adverse psychological consequences. As biologists we know that just about every tissue in the body has vitamin D receptors, including the cardiac, muscular, and immune systems. And what's even more fascinating is that the brain contains these receptors as well. As a result, vitamin D is needed at every level of the body for proper functioning.
In additional to the physiological functions, the psychological functioning can be impaired if insufficient levels are present. For example, the mood disorder called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), has depressive symptoms that occurs during the dark times of the year when there is relatively little sunshine, a source of vitamin D.
Several studies have suggested that the symptoms of SAD may be due to changing levels of vitamin D3, which may affect serotonin levels in the brain.
The other day I was reading an article that put forth evidence-based data that vitamin D deficiency raises risk of schizophrenia diagnosis. Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, debilitating mental illness, in which one can display mild to severe psychotic symptoms.
These may include delusions, hallucinations, catatonia, negative symptoms, and disorganized speech or behavior.
According to a new study conducted by Isfahan University of Medical Sciences in Iran, vitamin D deficient individuals are more as likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia as people who have sufficient levels of the vitamin.
Endocrine research findings support the theory that vitamin D may have a significant impact on psychiatric health. More research is needed to determine how the growing problem of vitamin D deficiency may be creating other mental health disorders.