Background: Anxiety and depression form commonest stress-induced psychiatric disorders. To combat the biochemical changes which occur as a result of stress, there is antioxidant defence in the biological system. Secondary defence is by the nonenzymatic antioxidants like vitamins E (alphatocopherol), C (ascorbic acid), and β-carotene. Therefore, the authors interest was aroused to examine the status of these antioxidants in the biological system of patients suffering from stress-induced psychiatric disorders.

Aims: This study was carried out to find out whether patients with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and depression have any difference in blood serum levels of vitamins A (β-carotene), C, and E in comparison to the normal healthy control group and whether supplementation of adequate doses of vitamins A (β-carotene), C, and E leads to improvement in anxiety and depression and reduction in scores of the patients.

Materials and methods: Eighty subjects in the age group of 20-60 years, who attended a psychiatric clinic of a private hospital and who met inclusion and exclusion criteria of the study and consented for psychological evaluation and blood screening to find out the serum levels of vitamins A, C, and E, were included in the study. Approval was sought from the institutional ethics committee for collecting the blood sample of these subjects before and after vitamins A, C, and E supplements given for a period of 6 weeks.

Statistics analysis: It was observed that patients with GAD and depression had significantly lower levels of vitamins A, C, and E in comparison to healthy controls. After dietary supplementation of these vitamins for a period of 6 weeks, a significant reduction in anxiety and depression scores of patients was observed (P<0.001). A significant increase in the blood levels of antioxidants was observed in patients (P<0.05) except that of vitamin E in the group of depressed patients.

Results and conclusion: The findings suggest that antioxidant supplement therapy as an adjuvant therapy is useful in patients with stress-induced psychiatric disorders and the results have been discussed.

Keywords: Depression; generalized anxiety disorder; vitamin A, C, E.

Gautam M, Agrawal M, Gautam M, Sharma P, Gautam AS, Gautam S. Role of antioxidants in generalised anxiety disorder and depression. Indian J Psychiatry. 2012 Jul;54(3):244-7. doi: 10.4103/0019-5545.102424. PMID: 23226848; PMCID: PMC3512361.