Category Archives: Therapy

Am I deficient in vitamin D?

For a number of reasons, many people aren’t getting enough vitamin D to stay healthy. This is called vitamin D deficiency. You may not get enough vitamin D if:

  • You don’t get enough sunlight. Your body is usually able to get all the vitamin D it needs if you regularly expose enough bare skin to the sun. However, many people don’t get enough sunlight because they spend a lot of time inside and because they use sunscreen. It’s also difficult for some people to get enough vitamin D from the sun during the winter.
  • You don’t take supplements. It’s very difficult to get enough vitamin D from the foods you eat alone.
  • Your body needs more vitamin D than usual, for example if you’re obese or pregnant.

Are certain people more likely to have vitamin D deficiency?

There are some groups of people that are more likely to have vitamin D deficiency. The following people are more likely to be lacking in vitamin D:

  • People with darker skin. The darker your skin the more sun you need to get the same amount of vitamin D as a fair-skinned person. For this reason, if you’re Black, you’re much more likely to have vitamin D deficiency that someone who is White.
  • People who spend a lot of time indoors during the day. For example, if you’re housebound, work nights or are in hospital for a long time.
  • People who cover their skin all of the time. For example, if you wear sunscreen or if your skin is covered with clothes.
  • People that live in the North of the United States or Canada. This is because there are fewer hours of overhead sunlight the further away you are from the equator.
  • Older people have thinner skin than younger people and this may mean that they can’t produce as much vitamin D.
  • Infants that are breastfed and aren’t given a vitamin D supplement. If you’re feeding your baby on breast milk alone, and you don’t give your baby a vitamin D supplement or take a supplement yourself, your baby is more likely to be deficient in vitamin D.
  • Pregnant women.
  • People who are very overweight (obese).

What are the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency?

Some people may not have any symptoms of vitamin D deficiency and still be deficient.

The symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are sometimes vague and can include tiredness and general aches and pains. Some people may not have any symptoms at all.

If you have a severe vitamin D deficiency you may have pain in your bones and weakness, which may mean you have difficulty getting around. You may also have frequent infections. However, not everyone gets these symptoms.

If you think you may have vitamin D deficiency, you should see your physician, or have a blood test to check your vitamin D levels.

How do I know if I’m deficient in vitamin D?

The way doctors measure if you’re deficient in vitamin D is by testing your 25(OH)D level, but most doctors just call this a vitamin D test. Getting this blood test is the only accurate way to know if you’re deficient or not. Please see our testing page for more information.

Already tested and want to know what your results mean? See our page on test results.

How can I get more vitamin D?

There are two ways to get more vitamin D: by exposing your bare skin to the sun or by taking vitamin D supplements. See How to get the vitamin D my body needs for more information.


  1. Holick MF. Vitamin D and Health: Evolution, Biologic Functions, and Recommended Dietary Intakes of Vitamin D. In Vitamin D: Physiology, Molecular Biology and Clinical Applications by Holick MF. Humana Press, 2010.
  2. Plum LA and Deluca HF. The Functional Metabolism and Molecular Biology of Vitamin D Action. In Vitamin D: Physiology, Molecular Biology and Clinical Applications by Holick MF. Humana Press, 2010.

10 Tips for Making Friends When You Are Depressed


Admittedly, It’s tough to make friends when you’re feeling depressed…even if you desperately want someone to talk to or confide in.

When people are depressed, they may not have sufficient energy or initiative to reach out to others. Or they may feel worthless and wonder why anyone else would want to befriend them. Also, depression can make people feel hesitant to make plans for next week or next month because they don’t know how depressed they’ll feel when the time of the actual event arrives.

Realistically, they may worry about whether they are capable of keeping up their side of the friendship, realizing they may not be good company right now. After all, it’s also hard to be with someone who is depressed.

For these reasons and others, depressed people often isolate themselves, perpetuating the feelings of sadness and loneliness. I recently received a one-sentence letter from a young woman:

Hi, i just want to ask how do i make friends when i struggle with depression?

While there are no simple answers, here are a few suggestions I would give to her and others:

  • Depression is a treatable illness. Check in with your therapist or physician to make sure that your condition is being treated as best as it can be. Your medication may need a minor adjustment or major overhaul. Your doctor may be able to offer other non-somatic recommendations.
  • Confide in your therapist explicitly about your problem in making friends. Like depression, friendship problems are real, too. Yours may be a byproduct of your depression and/or may stem from something else.
  • Join a support group of people with mood disorders to learn some practical tips to minimize the effect of depression on your social relationships.
  • It’s easier to make friends in natural settings where there is less pressure to socialize. Survey your workplace, school and/or neighborhood to see what types of groups or activities interest you. Take an adult education class, participate in an exercise class at a gym, or volunteer to help others.
  • Get moving. Get dressed and make an effort to get out of the house regularly, even if it’s to take a short walk or bicycle ride. A number of studies have shown that exercise helps improve mood.
  • Sometimes friends don’t know how to react to someone who is depressed. If they’ve been turned down or shut out repeatedly, they may stop initiating contact. Take the risk of contacting an old friend with whom you have some history. Let that person know you are interested in getting together.
  • Figure out what positive things you can bring to a new friendship. Be cautious about demanding too much too soon: Don’t treat new friends as therapists. Don’t be lazy either. Instead, make sure there is give and take in your relationships.
  • Take one day at a time. Recognize your illness is likely to have ups and downs. Don’t beat yourself up when you feel so depressed that you can’t handle being with other people.

Should I Go To A Counselor?

Counselors provide a comfortable, nonjudgmental and safe environment for individuals to share personal struggles and receive feedback and tools for how to help overcome challenges.   Below is valuable information regarding counseling.

Common misconceptions of counseling:

  • Counseling is only for people that are “crazy” or that need to be institutionalized
  • That a counselor will tell you what you should or should not do
  • A counselor can share what is said
  • That seeking counseling is a sign of weakness
  • Counseling requires a long-term commitment

Facts about counseling:

  • Counseling benefits many types of people; those with chronic problems and those dealing with situational concerns
  • Counseling may benifit professionals that have high stress jobs
  • Counselors will respect your autonomy and help you make your own decisions
  • For the most part, counseling is confidential and information will not be shared unless you give your written consent. Your counselor will go over the limits to confidentially at the onset of counseling, typically during the first session
  • It can take a lot of strength and courage to tell someone about personal struggles
  • Counseling can help with both short-term and long-term problems, and length of time can be decided on between you and your counselor

Counseling can help with the following:

  • Using personal strengths and attributes in a variety of situations
  • Identifying problem areas and factors that attribute to difficulties and dissatisfaction
  • Learning what thoughts and behaviors attribute to and maintain problems and how to change them
  • Improving stress-management skills
  • Building self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Enhancing the quality of relationships
  • Making better decisions
  • Leading a more satisfying and fulfilling life

Common concerns individuals seek counseling for help with:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Break-up of a romantic relationship
  • Family problems
  • Relational problems with a partner, roommates, friends or professors
  • Problems with drugs and/or alcohol
  • Eating disorders
  • Stress-management
  • Suicidal thinking
  • Grief and loss
  • Lack of motivation

If you are struggling with the challenges of college life or would like to learn more about yourself, try working with a counselor.