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Dear Dr Cannell: vitamin D, sun exposure and depression

Posted on: September 24, 2011   by  John Cannell, MD


Dear Council & Dr. Cannell:

I am a thirty-six year old male and have suffered with depression and anxiety disorders for several years now. If I had to guess, I have suffered with them for the last 20 years. The past 10 years, I have been working as a computer programmer and for 10 years now and have noticed that over those years my depression has become worse. I have routinely fluctuated between good days and bad and have experimented with prescribed antidepressants once or twice over those years. The side effects of those medications have always been too much for me to handle and I have lived with the fear that I would live like this forever.

I have always thought that my life indoors might have something to do with it, but would dismiss the thought as foolish since so many have to live and work indoors, but do not seem to suffer with the same issues. After a last failed attempt at using an anti-depressant, I decided to do my own research on alternative remedies and a light turned on, figuratively and literally, when discovering research about vitamin D deficiency.

I have just started a regimen of daily rituals to get out into the sun and am using vitamin D supplements. I feel great; better than I have in a long time. I am so thrilled; I have only been able to share the experience with a few family members and now, with you.

At the expense of sounding a bit obsessed with the idea, I must say I am 100% onboard with the mission of the Council and Dr. Cannell, and now have personal living proof of vitamin D’s effect on mood in my personal case. For me, the change in mood and energy is clear. I can’t deny the change I have experienced.

If there is any way I can help the council deliver the message, please let me know.

John, Florida

Dear John:

I am thrilled to hear of your improvement but want to make two points. One, vitamin D deficiency is but one cause of depression. What percentage of people with depression who will respond is simply unknown.

Secondly, your sun exposure may have more to do with your improvement than the vitamin D supplements although I can’t be sure. My experience as a psychiatrist is that people who work outside seldom get depressed and some of this is from vitamin D, some from exposure of bright light to the retina of the eye and perhaps some is the endorphin effect of UVB on the skin. In other words, keep up both things you are doing, including getting out in the sun, every day if you can.

As far as how you can help the Council, our finances are always critical. Anything you can do to deliver that message to people who can help a non-profit, would be greatly appreciated.

No matter what you can do financially, even if nothing, remember it is letters like yours that keep me going, not the money. Thanks for writing and don’t forget the sun, or, when that is not possible, standard, old fashioned, low-pressure, high UVB, sunbeds.

1 Response to Dear Dr Cannell: vitamin D, sun exposure and depression

  1. Brant Cebulla
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