Wendy MarshCan Vitamin D help chase away depression?

Wendy K. Marsh, M.D., M.S., assistant professor of psychiatry, UMass Medical School and UMass Memorial Health Care, is trying to find out, using a new prestigious Young Investigator Grant from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation.

Marsh is among an elite group of researchers chosen to receive prestigious 2012 Young Investigator Grants from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. The grants are said to be among the most competitive in biomedical research: Marsh’s was one of only 202 awarded from some 1,030 applications this year. Funding for the grants totals $11.9 million.

Marsh will use her award for a randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot trial to examine the effect of Vitamin D supplementation on bipolar depression. She believes there is a link; that Vitamin D may help to safely reduce depression symptoms in bipolar disorders.

Trial participants with bipolar depression and low Vitamin D levels will receive either Vitamin D or a placebo and see if an increase in their Vitamin D levels can be associated with improved mood and, in particular, less depression.

Marsh’s research interests include mood and reproductive phases as well as alternative treatments for depression. She sees patients with a focus on mood disorders in relation to reproductive phases.