March 4, 2021

Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting about 121 million people (World Health Organization [WHO], 2008). In the United States, 14.8 million (or about 6.7%) adults have depression. Depression is the leading cause of disability for Americans between the ages of 15 and 44 (National Institutes of Mental Health [NIMH], 2008). Currently, the WHO has determined that depression is ranked fourth on the global burden of disease list. The rates of depression continue to increase and the WHO predicts that it will be the second most common global burden of disease by the year 2020. Depression costs $36.6 billion and 225 million lost workdays each year in the United States (NIMH, 2006).

DEPRESSION TREATMENT CONSIDERATIONS

Common treatments for depression include antidepressant medication and psychotherapy. Treatment for depression has been found to be successful 60 to 80% of the time; however, fewer than 25% of people with depression receive treatment (WHO, 2008). When treatment is not successful, it is usually related to non-compliance with medication. Patients discontinue their medication due to unwanted side effects, financial reasons, fear of addiction, and the belief that the medication is no longer necessary. It has been reported that 42.4% of patients discontinue medication within 30 days of initiating treatment and 52.1% of patients discontinue medication within 60 days (Olfson, Marcus, Tedeschi, & Wan, 2006).

Depression is considered a chronic or recurrent condition. People with a history of three prior episodes of major depression have a relapse rate of 70 to 80% and people with no prior history have a relapse rate of 20 to 30% (Segal, Pearson, & Thase, 2003). In addition, persons who have less than an 85% adherence to the recommended medication treatment plan are at great risk for relapse (Thase, 2003). Due to the high rate of patient medication discontinuation as well as the high rates of relapse, it is important to consider other factors that can be targeted to treat depression. One important factor needing examination is nutrition, particularly dietary supplements.

Vitamin D has shown improvement in people with depression, obesity, mood disorders, and more.

Levels that were associated with better outcomes in depression and other disorders was at least >50 ng/mL.

– Dr. Cheryl Burdette, ND.

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