Many symptoms of B12 deficiency are debilitating but I have been stunned by the lack of knowledge of this condition within the mental health community. Sadly our health professionals are simply not taught enough, or at all, about the impact low B12 can have on mental health. This is despite the connection between B12 deficiency and psychiatric manifestation being well documented. This link was discovered in the early 1900's by Dr. Melvin Hector and Dr. John Burton.
Depressioncan be one of the first presenting symptoms of this condition. Many health care professionals would be shocked to learn that B12 deficiency can also cause psychosis.
The Neuropsychiatric symptoms of B12 deficiency can precede the development of anaemia.
Among the most common psychiatric symptoms seen in people with B12 deficiency are the following:
Having a diagnosis of bipolar or Alzheimer's means that patients may be firmly pigeon-holed and very rarely assessed again. B12 deficiency is commonly misdiagnosed as various mental and physical health conditions due to the lack of education on this subject. For more information on misdiagnoses and causes please explore the site.
Exposure to toxic gases such as carbon monoxide and cyanide deplete B12 and victims may present with depression and psychosis. Please see B12 the Antidote page.
Of course there are many causes of poor mental health but ruling out B12 deficiency and other nutritional deficiencies is essential. Many undiagnosed patients are isolated from society, estranged from loved ones, quietly deteriorating whilst being fed cocktails ofantidepressants, anti psychotics and mood stabilisers, some of whichdeplete B12 levels further.
It is important to note here that folate deficiency can also have a serious impact on mental health, many drugs are known folate antagonists, depleting this vital companion to vitamin B12.
The connection between mental health and B12 deficiency is staggering and yet it appears screening is rarely carried out within the NHS.
My experience of trying to help mental health patients to acheive a diagnosis or the correct level of treatment is met with a reluctantance to even acknowledge a link between B12 deficiency and poor mental health.
There is a dire need for all health professionals to educate themselves regarding this devastating reality especially when the patient in front of them is pleading for more B12 injections than the 4 per year most patients in the UK are allowed. B12 is a not a drug and it cannot be overdosed.
An undiagnosed or under treated deficiency means that the protection for nerves and spinal cord is deteriorating. The myelin coating is being stripped away affecting and brain function and all body systems. This continues on whilst the prescribed psychiatric drugs simply modify symptoms.
Imagine being sectioned due to this condition? Psychosis is a common symptom, but unless your GP or psychiatrist are aware that Vitamin B12 deficiency, coeliac disease and thyroid dysfunction can cause this you may never be tested.
How many young mothers are misdiagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's simply due to the fact that it is not widely understood just how important it is to screen for a physical cause for this illness?
New mothers presenting with post natal depression could be B12 deficient, either due to nitrous oxide use during labour, or as a result of an undiagnosed deficiency worsened by the growing baby's demands on diminished supplies.
How many patients with eating disorders are left without this essential vitamin?
GPs should be screening patients for any physical cause for their mental health problems, however due to ignorance, this is routinely overlooked.
There are 1000's of journals on the connection between B12 deficiency and poor mental health please see Pubmed or other journal sites for more info but in the mean time;