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Recovery from depression faster with vitamin C supplement

People suffering from depression who take the anti-depressant fluoxetine recover more quickly if they also take a daily 1g vitamin C supplement. Egyptian researchers discovered this when they tried out a combination of vitamin C and fluoxetine on children with depression.

Vitamin C for the brain
People who worry a lot benefit from high doses of vitamin C, we wrote recently on the website. Vitamin C has many positive effects on mental wellbeing, something that molecular psychiatrists have known for decades.

But are these positive effects so big that you could actually treat people for depression by giving them vitamin C? This is the question that researchers at Mansoura University in Egypt set out to answer in a small exploratory human study.

The researchers gave twelve children suffering from depression 10-20 mg fluoxetine every day for six months. Fluoxetine is an anti-depressant that boosts serotonin concentration in the brain.

Vitamin C
A similar-sized, comparable group of children suffering from depression was also given 10-20 mg fluoxetine daily and a tablet containing 1000 mg vitamin C as well.

Both groups showed a decline in depression. The researchers measured this using the Children's Depression Rating Scale (CDRS) and the Children's Depression Inventory (CDI), two standardised questionnaires that psychiatrists use to assess depression in children.

Giving vitamin C in addition to the anti-depressant resulted in a statistically significant greater reduction in depression than using fluoxetine on its own.

Recovery from depression faster with vitamin C supplement

Vitamin C resulted in better scores on the Clinical Global Impression [CGI], although this is not a particularly useful measurement, as the CGI is a fairly crude instrument. It consists of two questions that therapists have to answer after a consultation. One question is about the gravity of the disorder; the other is about the progression of the disorder.

Vitamin C had no side effects.

"Treatment with 1000 mg/day of vitamin C potentiated the efficacy of fluoxetine in pediatric patients being treated for major depressive disorder," the researchers summarised. "Furthermore, vitamin C was shown to be a particularly attractive therapeutic adjuvant due to the absence of substantial side effects and its inexpensive cost."

"Future, large-scale clinical trials are warranted to evaluate the therapeutic efficacy of vitamin C for the treatment of depression in pediatric patients as well as its effectiveness as an adjuvant treatment to antidepressants."

Nutr J. 2013 Mar 9;12:31.

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Vitamin C