Mental health is a huge issue in the United States, and more and more people are struggling with mental health conditions. The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t done anything to improve the situation either: With the extra stress, uncertainty, and instability millions of people are facing due to the pandemic, mental health issues are at an all-time high.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. has a mental illness, which amounts to approximately 52.9 million people in 2020. These conditions can range in severity and symptom expression and include everything from depression and anxiety to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
With so many individuals suffering from mental health issues, often in silence or without the proper support, it’s no wonder that people are searching for ways to improve their mental health. If medication and psychotherapy haven’t been helpful for you, or if you are looking for something to use in conjunction with these methods, IV vitamin therapy has proven effective against mental illness symptoms.
What Is IV Vitamin Therapy?
IV vitamin therapy is a form of treatment that injects vitamins and minerals into the body intravenously. This method of administration bypasses the digestive system, meaning that 100% of the nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream and can be used by the body immediately.
IV vitamin therapy is used in various contexts, including treating dehydration, boosting the immune system, and strengthening and rejuvenating the skin. It is also generally used to support health and wellness and to revitalize the body. However, it is increasingly being used to treat mental health conditions.
How Does IV Vitamin Therapy Work?
While you can get many vitamins and minerals through oral supplementation or a healthy diet, many of these nutrients are poorly absorbed by the body. They are absorbed much better through IV administration.
For example, vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin rapidly excreted by the body, meaning that it isn’t stored for long and needs to be constantly replenished. When taken orally in modest doses (30-180 mg daily), only about 70%-90% of vitamin C is actually absorbed by the body. In doses of 1,000 mg or higher, the common dosage for vitamin C supplements, the absorption drops to 50%. However, when administered intravenously, the body absorbs almost all of the vitamin C (common rates hover around 99.9%). You get a much higher dose instantly, and it stays in your system for longer.
The same is true for other nutrients such as B vitamins, magnesium, and zinc, and for many of these vitamins and nutrients, the difference in absorption rates is even more extreme. When taken orally, these nutrients are not always well-absorbed by the body and are rapidly excreted, but they are immediately available for use when administered intravenously. Calcium, for instance, has an oral absorption rate of 28%-36% when taken as a supplement but has a 100% absorption rate through IV administration.
What Are the Benefits of IV Vitamin Therapy?
The benefits of IV vitamin therapy are very similar to taking vitamins orally, with the significant difference that the absorption rate is much higher, so the vitamins are more effective. The results will depend on what vitamins and nutrients are used in your IV therapy. This, in turn, will be dependent on what you’re trying to treat and what kind of IV treatments your provider offers.
Some common vitamins in IV treatments are vitamin C, B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, antioxidants such as glutathione, and amino acids. These all help support your health and wellness in a variety of ways. Here is a breakdown of the main benefits of some of these common vitamins:
Vitamin C is used to treat everything from the common cold to cancer and is a powerful antioxidant that can help protect the body against damage from free radicals.
B Vitamins are often used to treat fatigue, stress, anxiety, and depression. They are essential for energy production, metabolism, and nerve function.
An important mineral for bone health, calcium is also involved in muscle contraction, blood clotting, and nerve function.
A mineral involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body, magnesium is essential for energy production, metabolism, and DNA synthesis. It is also crucial for muscle and nerve function.
Antioxidants are important for protecting the body against damage from free radicals and can also help to reduce inflammation.
How Can IV Vitamin Therapy Help Mental Health?
There are a few ways in which IV vitamin therapy can help improve mental health. First of all, many mental health conditions are caused or aggravated by vitamin deficiencies. For example, anxiety and depression are common in people who are deficient in vitamins B12 and folate. Vitamin B12 is involved in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in mood regulation. Folate is involved in the production of dopamine, another neurotransmitter that is important for mood and motivation.
Another way IV vitamin therapy can help mental health is by reducing inflammation. Inflammation has been linked to various mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and even schizophrenia. Some of the vitamins and nutrients in IV vitamin therapy, such as vitamin C and antioxidants, have anti-inflammatory effects.
Lastly, IV vitamin therapy can help improve mental health by boosting energy levels and improving mood. Many vitamins and minerals used in IV therapy, such as B vitamins and magnesium, are involved in energy production and metabolism. This means that IV vitamin therapy can help to increase energy levels and combat fatigue. Additionally, some of the vitamins and nutrients used in IV therapy, such as vitamin C and antioxidants, can help improve mood.
Consider Getting Help With IV Vitamins
IV vitamin therapy has many benefits for general health and can be especially helpful for mental health. If you’re interested in trying IV vitamin therapy, be sure to talk to your provider about what treatments they offer. There are a variety of vitamins and nutrients that can be used in IV therapy, so it’s important to find a provider who can tailor the treatment to your specific needs.
Sandhya Prashad, MD is the medical director at Houston Ketamine Therapeutics and Houston Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Therapy.
There is no question that the pandemic has shaped myriad aspects of life as we know it, including significantly impacting the mental health care industry. While the unprecedented events have resulted in mental health challenges, it has also delivered growth in the area as well.
“The pandemic has helped break down barriers such as the stigma around treatment, access to care in terms of proximity and available time, and even common misconceptions of what it means to receive treatment for depression.”
In fact, the appetite for treatment has increased so much that providers are finding it challenging to accommodate the surge of requested appointments.1 This newfound openness among patients to explore therapy has served as a means to deliver more care to those who have lived in silence for years due to either apprehension around going into an office or limited understanding around just how far treatment options have come.
Teletherapy has helped shepherd more patients through the door
Leveraging teletherapy has helped providers and patients troubleshoot the common concerns around social distancing and, ultimately, could be credited with getting many first-time patients in the “virtual” door. In fact, the use of teletherapy saw a 154% increase in March 2020 when compared to the same period in 2019.2 The ability to connect with patients in the comfort and privacy of their own homes allowed providers to build rapport over time and helped spark many overdue conversations around tailored options for treatment. While the convenience of teletherapy is likely to foster continued use long after the pandemic subsides, it is important for providers to remind patients that it is not a direct substitute for an in-person visit nor is it the only form of treatment available.
Taking the next step in treatment with the latest technology
Marrying the increased desire to speak with providers and the ability to ease into sessions via virtual visits, providers like myself have a unique opportunity to begin educating patients that mental health treatment is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Studies have shown that depression symptom prevalence is more than 3-fold higher3 during the COVID-19 pandemic, and because more than 40% of people with major depressive disorder (MDD), 4 find they are treatment-resistant, there is a growing need to foster education among patients regarding other available options when there is an unresponsiveness to traditional methods.5 These options include deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (Deep TMS), a non-invasive treatment process that is FDA-cleared for treating depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). While well-known within the mental health community, many patients are unaware of this successful treatment option which only takes 20-minutes per session.
In a study published by the Journal of Psychiatric Research, Deep TMS therapy combined with standard medication for MDD was found to be significantly more effective than standard pharmacotherapy alone, reducing the symptoms of close to two-thirds of participants battling depression.6 Deep TMS is a great example of how far we have come in treatment offerings, showing patients that there are treatments that do not require downtime, are noninvasive, and offer virtually no discomfort.
Moving forward in the new normal
While we as a society are working hard to leave the pandemic behind as a footnote in history, we as mental health professionals have been given a catalyst for a mental health movement. The pandemic has helped break down barriers such as the stigma around treatment, access to care in terms of proximity and available time, and even common misconceptions of what it means to receive treatment for depression. It is our responsibility as those committed to improving mental health to look for every opportunity we can to serve and educate, and the pandemic has certainly provided us with a platform.
Sandhya Prashad, MD is a board-certified psychiatrist specializing in interventional modalities for treatment-resistant disorders with a particular interest and expertise in ketamine therapy. She is the founder and medical director of Sandhya J. Prashad, MD, Houston Ketamine Therapeutics, and Houston TMS Therapeutics. Dr. Prashad currently serves as president of The American Society of Ketamine Physicians, Psychotherapists, and Practitioners.
1. Caron C. ‘Nobody Has Openings’: Mental Health Providers Struggle to Meet Demand. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/17/well/mind/therapy-appointments-shortages-pandemic.html. Published online February 17, 2021. Accessed February 17, 2021
2. Koonin LM, Hoots B, Tsang CA, et al. Trends in the use of telehealth during the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic — United States, January–March 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2020;69:1595–1599. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm6943a3
3. Ettman CK, Abdalla SM, Cohen GH, Sampson L, Vivier PM, Galea S. Prevalence of depression symptoms in US adults before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(9):e2019686. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.19686
4. Major Depressive Disorder and TMS Treatment. Brainsway. https://www.brainsway.com/knowledge-center/major-depressive-disorder-tms-treatment/. Accessed February 9, 2019
5. Jaffe DH, Rive B, Denee TR. The humanistic and economic burden of treatment-resistant depression in Europe: a cross-sectional study. BMC Psychiatry. 19, 247 (2019). doi:10.1186/s12888-019-2222-4
6. Filipčić I, Šimunović Filipčić I, Milovaca Z, et al. Efficacy of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation using a figure-8-coil or an H1-Coil in treatment of major depressive disorder; A randomized clinical trial. J. Psychiatr. Res. 2019;114:113-119. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2019.04.020
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