Psychiatric Abnormalities Of A B12 Deficiency

Pernicious anemia is a serious condition, but it may not be the most momentous problem created by a B12 deficiency. Odel Abramsky, M.D. wrote in the “Journal of the American Geriatrics Society” that from his case studies he concluded the results from a B12 deficiency can be devastating – and irreversible. Dr. Abramsky concluded his article by stating that “mental or psychiatric manifestations such as mental apathy, fluctuations in mood, memory disturbance, paranoia, or frank psychosis may more often precede the blood changes (of anemia) by a number of years”.

The New York Herald Tribune newspaper quoted the highly respected hematologist, Victor Herbert, M.D. of New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital. He attributed the blame for many patients being committed to mental hospitals to brain damage that resulted from a lack of B12.  The British Medical Journal editorial staff dramatically stated, “It is true that vitamin B12 deficiency may cause severe psychotic symptoms which may vary in severity from mild disorders of mood, mental slowness, and memory defect to severe psychotic symptoms – Occasionally, these mental disturbances may be the first manifestations of B12 deficiency”. Do you possibly have friends and acquaintances who have been similarly misdiagnosed on account of a lack of understanding of the devastation a B12 deficiency can create?

Adverse changes can occur in the nervous system due to a B12 deficiency.  Changes can include such problems as soreness and weakness of the limbs, diminished reflexes and sensory perception, poor body temperature regulation, walking difficulties, stammering and tremors, depression, paranoia, listlessness, an acute state of confusion, hallucinations, delusions, insomnia, anxiety, psychosis, lack of mental alertness, mania, panic attacks, personality change and suicide.

A B12 deficiency is something even a doctor might not think of looking for, or not find even if he did look. He could easily check the patient’s blood, find the blood levels of B12 relatively normal and presume there is no sign of anemia, and misdiagnose the problem. An early diagnosis of a B12 deficiency might not occur because the relationship of vitamin blood levels to the symptoms the patient is experiencing is not grasped . This is a serious matter, because the end result of untreated cerebral or spinal lesions created by B12 deficiency may be severe dementia and paraplegia. These may be irreversible when treatment is delayed by failure in diagnosis.

Next time, we will discuss vitamin B12 as a growth and ADHD factor and patient’s response to sublingual B12.

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