Giving You Back YOUR Life

Vitamin B12 Deficiency Overview - B12 effects - psychiatric/ psychological

B12 deficiency affects many body systems, which is why doctors often find it difficult to diagnose.  As part of these descriptions of the different areas of symptoms, we're looking at the psychiatric/ psychological changes

Emotions and Moods

Everyone is unique, which is why B12 deficiency affects us all a little differently. However there are some characteristic effects on the brain which people report regularly:

Brain Fogginess

you may feel that you have difficulty thinking, you don't feel quite present.  At the extreme (but a lot of people have reported this), you feel like you are down a long hole - you can hear people talking to you but you just wish they would stop and leave you alone.

Others describe it as being in a white cloud - so people taking seem to come out of a fog and everything they say is a bit muffled

Being anti-social One of the first changes that people (or their friends) report when they start the B12 treatment is that you become more sociable.  It's difficult to be sociable when your brain is only operating on 1% of its usual capacity, so you can be irritable, short-tempered and angry.  No, people aren't being irritating, it's just you!
Weepy / can't stop crying for some reason you feel overwhelmed by emotion, and any little thing just feels like it's too much.  Many people feel like this, and it isn't always because of B12 deficiency, but it is one of the things that clears up with B12 injections
Tired all the time This gets a mention in the energy page too, but it's essentially mental and emotional.  Everything seems too much effort, you can't stay awake during the day and you can't get to sleep at night, your limbs feel heavy and so do your eyes

Why does this happen? What are the chemicals involved?

We don't know for sure, but the most likely is homocysteine, the depression chemical.

Depression is actually quite useful - it keeps you in a corner and out of harm's way.  For example, in the arctic winters, there's no food outside but there are roving predators.  If you didn't feel depressed, you would go stir-crazy and want to go out and kill something.  And let's face it, in a battle between a person and a polar bear, chances are the polar bear will be half way through eating your arm before you've landed your first punch.

So the body produces this depression chemical homocysteine.  It's also important for other things - it accumulates when there isn't enough B12 because it needs B12 in the reaction to convert it to the next chemical in the line - SAMe which is the happiness chemical.  So plenty of B12, and all that nasty homocysteine gets converted to SAMe (which couldn't exist without B12), which makes you all spring-like - just in time for all the lovely little furry springtime animals that our ancestors used to like hunting.

People's partners and parents often say that the first change they notice is an improvement in sociability as the B12 takes effect and converts the homocysteine into SAMe

Are you B12 Deficient? Use our diagnstic calculator to find your diagnosis and how we can help you
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Donna, like so many women, wants to live a normal life. Vitamin B12 could give her that chance.
Janette first appeared in the BBC InsideOut documentary in October 2006. Since then the NHS has forced her doctor to withdraw B12 replacement therapy on a number of occasions, and she tells of her struggles with having B12 and then having it taken away.
She has bravely agreed to be filmed without her usual wig, but her memory is playing up because it is so long since her last injection.
Frankie tells of how she suffered, the tests she had to endure until doctors worked out what was wrong, and what a difference it has made.
June describes her suffering when doctors didn't follow the standard protocol after any stomach or intestinal operation - to offer B12 replacement therapy
Susan gets very tired, which isn't much fun especially as she has so much to do. Here she tells her story.
Dr Chandy was nominated for the North East Local Heroes award. The interviewer was at first surprised - people don't get awards for doing what they are paid to do - but she persisted.
The definitive and original guide to B12 deficiency, Dr Chandy interviewed by Chris Jackson of UK BBC Inside Out Team broadcast 31 Oct 2008.
Dr Joseph Chandy explains symptoms and shows the restorative effect on one patient (other patients' families have asked that we edit out their stories unfortunately)
Julia found her eyesight going as her eyes refused to focus on the same things as each other. She's been for all sorts of tests and treatment, but now that she's on B12 replacement therapy she's starting to see an improvement.
The local MP (Grahame Morris MP for Easington - who was a BMS (BioMedical Scientist) in the labs at Sunderland Royal Infirmary) interviews people with B12 deficiency to hear their story (August 27 2010). Here Jane describes the symptoms, and how she can't wait for her next B12 injection (in fact, she knows that she needs injections every 2 weeks because she's keeping a diary of the symptoms). We're restricted how often the GP can give injections, which is why we want to raise awareness.
The Scottish Parliament discusses Pernicious Anaemia and vitamin B12 deficiency on Wednesday 7 March 2012.
This video is over 1 hour long and represents real political change - we are at last on our way.