Had a shock this morning

Just before I was supposed to leave for work the phone rang - didn't recognise the number so let it go through to ansaphone only to hear a message from one of my reports at work - saying that she was away because her daughter had taken an overdose on Saturday night. Picked up the phone at that point and we talked a bit. I've never met her daughter but I know that I was feeling rather shaken by it all and was actually rather glad that I'd got the news at home as it meant I had an hour to assimilate it all before I got into the office. Heaven knows what my colleague must be feeling like.

Unfortunately one of the elements of the cocktail is one that may have caused permanent damage so it's all very touch and go.

Among the good thing is that her partner and her daughter were both offered counselling.

Think I find it so difficult because I've just managed to free myself of the black dog having resorted to treating myself for a B12 deficiency in a way that actually works for me ... and discovering that that not only resolved neurological issues but has also eased anxiety and depression issues - had known that depression was a potential symptom but having suffered from it for so many years it has come as a bit of a shock to actually realise that B12 may well have been my problem for most of my life.

From some stuff I was reading last night it has even been implicated in some cases labelled as bi-polar.

If there are any of you out there who have suffered and find that drugs aren't helping please badger your GP to get tested for B12 just in case it is a factor for you as well. B12D week is coming up soon - end of October next week - think psychiatrists are starting to wake up to B12 as a factor in mental health problems but GPs are still a long way behind the curve and many think that it is a blood disorder when actually neurological and psychological effects are much more likely to be first indicators because people's diets these days contain much more folic acid (B9) and that masks the effect of B12 on blood cells. Wish I could wave a magic wand to make GPs wake up to just how much interest they need to take in B12 ... it's a lot cheaper to treat in general than doling out anti-depressants to B12 deficient people who won't respond anyway.

If anyone is interested then you might find 'Could it be B12? An epidemic of misdiagnosis' by Sally Pacholok an interesting read - she's an ER nurse in the US and has co-written the book with her husband who is an ER doctor.


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5 Replies

  • Gambit that must have been a terrible shock like you say to hear about your colleagues daughter's OD.

    It is always so distressing to feel that people are feeling so bad as this and I think we all wish there was something we can do; her poor mum will be going through it with all the uncertainty over whether she will pull through ok. And the poor girl herself must have felt completely desperate to take such a measure.

    Thank you for raising awareness on here about the B12 issue. I don't feel it is an issue for me but I will include a supplement just incase. I certainly have always lacked energy and get three or four times more tired than even people a lot older than me but I've always just put that down to me as an individual and possibly the fact that I am severely asthmatic. Just lately for the past few years my sleep is appauling so I'm in permanent state of stress and exhaustion but I will try the vit B12. Glad it is working for you but sorry as well that it took you so long to find out what the benefit was for you.

    Gemma X

  • B12 deficiency can take years to show up because huge amounts are stored in the liver. It stems from an breakdown in the normal mechanism for absorbing it through the gut. To overcome this you need to take very large doses of B12 - RDA is something like 2.5 micrograms. Replacement therapy is 1milligram shots (400xRDA) into the muscles every 2 -3 months though not everyone responds to this as there can be things going on with absorption at a cellular level. I find I need to take about 3 milligrams a day (that's 1200x the RDA).

    I supplement using a mixture of nasal spray and sub-cutaneous injections.

    Ideally you should try to get your GP to test before you supplement - need to use a combination of indicators - Folate, B12 whole serum, MMA and Homocysteine ... and ideally HoloT (active B12 - whole serum looks at all the B12 in your system but the body can't actually use all of it where as HoloT looks at the levels of the form that it uses - but isn't available on NHS).

    The body uses B12 in a lot of systems - including cell reproduction (can cause anaemia and osteoporosis as a result), breaking down homocysteine (implicated in cardio-vascular damage - hardening of arteries), maintaining the insulating layer around nerves etc.

    Many think that whole serum B12 reference ranges are set with much too low a limit and it is acknowledged that you can be symptomatic at levels well above the 160-200 reported as being bottom of the normal range by most labs in the UK. 500 has been suggested as a suitable cut off but there have been cases of people being symptomatic even above this level and the BCSH guidelines are now to treat on the basis of symptoms rather than test results.

    High levels of MMA and homocysteine are indicators that B12 is low/isn't being metabolised properly.

    High levels of folate can mask a B12 deficiency if looking at whole serum B12.

    However, generally very difficult to get GPs to listen, because most still think of B12D as being a blood disorder.

    Fatigue, exhausting easily and sleeping poorly, anxiety and depression are all potential symptoms of B12 deficiency. They are also symptoms of a lot of other illnesses - and identifying one cause doesn't rule out the possibility that there are other causes.

    Left untreated problems absorbing B12 will become a very serious - life threatening condition but this can take years and even decades.

    If you decide to supplement for yourself would recommend avoiding cyanocobalamin and looking for methylcobalamin and/ or hydroxocobalamin supplements. methylcobalamin is closer to the active form used by the body but hydroxocobalamin is more stable/tends to be retained longer in the body.

    I really don't want to be alarmist but for me the most frightening thing about this condition has been how poorly it is understood and treated, and the extent to which its prevalence is underestimated.

  • Have you heard anything more about your mother.

    I know it is difficult not to worry but your mother is probably in the best place.

    It is possible that when your sister tells you not to worry this isn't because she doesn't care but may be more to do with knowing that there isn't anything that will be achieved by worrying.

  • Gambit I looked up methylcobalamin and the other thing and it does stress that these are to be administered by professionals only and that all things can interact with other stuff like if you are taking other meds; so i would only take the general supplement that is available as there is nothing to make me think I am suffering from B12 deficiency.

    I do feel however that it is important to raise awareness like you have because there may be someone on here who does have the same condition as you but just doesn't realise yet; in which case I think it would be good for them to approach their GP in the first instance.

    Have phoned hospital and they have said they can't give me much info at the moment and to phone after the doctors rounds. She is in the surgical admissions unit which you would sort of expect; it is close to all the emergency treatment stuff so we will see ; I know they won't operate on her because of her heart as she wouldn't be deemed fit to undergo the long operation it would require. Many thanks for asking though.

  • Hi Gambit that is a shock for sure. It's so common nowadays. Hopefully the counselling

    Will help the young girl and her Mother.

    Hope your doing ok too Gambit and all little cars.

    Hannah x