Vitamin B12 is a quite popular topic these days and I think this is wonderful. It is important for us to know more about B12, for example what is B12 responsible for in our bodies, where to get it from, what are the symptoms of its deficiency etc. However, the most important thing is for us to start monitoring its levels on a regular basis and in case of deficiency to take adequate measures.
What bothers me, however, is that quite often there are pretty extreme statements when it comes to the consequences of B12 deficiency. It’s true that B12 is extremely important for the proper functioning of our bodies, however, some sources point out its deficiency as the main cause or even the only cause for some mental illnesses. As a result some people start believing that they can simply take B12 supplements and solve their mental problems, but unfortunately it is not that simple to heal mental illnesses, nor is their cause so narrow. Not to mention people suffering from depression, whose relatives and friends put a lot of pressure on them anyway when they try to help them by saying things like: “Think positive and your depression will go away”. Now that pressure starts appearing in the form of: “Take B12 supplements and your depression will go away”. However, the only thing this does is to deny one more time the right of the person to feel his/her feelings and this only makes things worse.
In my opinion, the best course of action when it comes to any illness, is to take measures both on physical and mental level, because the body influences the mind and the mind influences the body. So when our mental condition improves, this influences the body positively and vice versa. However, when it comes to mental illnesses it’s absurd to take measures only on physical level and hope you will get better.
Depression is not caused by B12 deficiency, however, it is quite possible that B12 deficiency makes depression worse. This is why if you suffer from depression, it’s advisable to do some blood testing in order to check your B12 levels and if it turns out that you have deficiency, you definitely need to take appropriate measures. However, keep in mind that this is just an additional tool to help ourselves feel better. Don’t expect that you will simply take B12 supplements every day and then at some point the depression will disappear. And if you are not the one with depression, but a friend or relative of yours, stop giving advice to that person to take some supplements, so that he/she gets rid of depression. It’s not that simple.
It’s not adequate to talk about healing from depression, without doing some work on mental level. B12 supplements are not going to erase piled up sadness, suppressed anger, self-neglect and unsatisfied needs. Sometimes we even tend to stuff our schedule way too much so that we don’t feel our feelings, in which case depression comes up in order to slow us down and show us it’s time to feel our feelings and stop doing way too much in order to escape that. And guess what, B12 supplements can’t solve this issue either. The only way to solve it is actually starting to feel our feelings and allowing ourselves to have some rest as well.
Example from my personal experience – 3 years ago my B12 levels were way below the lower limit and I was suffering from depression. I tried a mixture of different options in order to raise my B12 levels, because I wasn’t exactly sure what would work for me. I started taking different food supplements, nutritional yeast, kombucha, sauerkraut, soya yoghurt, vegan probiotics, as well as decreasing the intake of wheat to minimum. At the same time I put a lot of effort in realizing what exactly was happening to me, as well as what was the reason for me to suffer from depression. At that time I also started working with a psychotherapist.
Currently my B12 levels are at 500 and this is supposed to be a very good level. I keep monitoring my B12 on a regular basis, because I consider this to be good self-care. In my opinion it doesn’t really do you any good, when you are too optimistic to the extent that you never actually check how things are in reality – this is definitely not a proper self-care. I am saying this once again from personal experience, because the first time a friend of mine told me that it looks like I have symptoms of B12 deficiency and it would be good to check it through blood testing, I just said to him and to myself that everything was ok with me and I am not going to check it. But in the end it turned out that this was not true. This is why I would encourage you to think realistically in this aspect of your life as well and check what reality will show you.
Having said that, no matter that my B12 levels are within the norm now, for me it is still typical to get depressed the moment I start suppressing my emotions, exhausting myself with too many tasks without giving myself proper break, doing only useful stuff without giving myself any joys, not asking others for help and for what I need… If I am not aware of all those stuff, then the good levels of B12 are not going to save me from depression, it is simply necessary to take a good self-care. For me depression is a way of coping with suppressed emotions. Sometimes it is even a way of manipulating people to give me the attention and love I need, because usually I wouldn’t dare to ask for them directly. It could also be an unconscious way to make myself stop and have a rest, otherwise I just tend to forget taking care of myself and giving myself a break.
However, keep in mind that this is my personal experience, the causes and triggers of depression when it comes to you could be different. In any case, test your B12 levels if you haven’t done it so far. Also start taking a better care of yourself by letting yourself experience your emotions and not suppressing them. Let yourself release all previously piled up emotions, discover what brings you joy and start giving it to yourself more often. Furthermore, practice asking people around you for what you need and learn to enjoy the fact that you exist. It’s not easy and it takes effort, because the habit of being unhappy is very strong. But to learn how to enjoy life is beautiful and it’s worth it every effort.