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Depression & Anxiety Treatment with Diet

The Links to Magnesium Deficiency

woman lying in bed awake
  Insomnia is just one of many symptoms common to both Mg deficiency and depression.


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A recent study noted that people with optimistic outlooks were more likely to live longer, and that pessimists were more likely to die from heart disease. The results of the study are often interpreted as optimism helps people live longer. I think the study results may not have been interpreted correctly. Association does not equal cause and effect. Just because optimism and better heart function statistically occur together does not prove that either one causes the other.

Magnesium deficiency is a known factor in heart disease as well as anxiety. A possible reason people with more optimistic attitudes live longer is that they may be happier and less worried because they have sufficient magnesium levels, which in turn may also have a protective effect on their hearts.

Undoubtedly there are many factors involved in anxiety and depression, and a magnesium deficiency may be just one of many possible factors. However, studies do show that:

  • In the U.S. and many other industrialized countries, magnesium deficiencies are relatively common in the general population, especially in women.

  • Anxiety disorders are also highly prevalent among the general population, especially with women.

  • Multiple studies, readily available on PubMed, have confirmed that magnesium deficiencies can be a cause of anxiety and other nervous disorders.

  • Anxiety disorders are more common in people with conditions such as migraines, TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder), hypermobility, irritable bowel syndrome and especially a common heart condition known as mitral valve prolapse (MVP). Perhaps it is not a coincidence that these conditions have also commonly been linked, either directly or indirectly, to magnesium deficiencies.

  • A recent report from Britain linked poor diet to rising cases of depression, " Increasing rates of anxiety, depression and irritability could be due to a poor diet that lacks the essential chemicals to keep the brain healthy, according to a leading mental health charity."

  • Many medical cites today link depression with heart disease. Researchers often interpret this to mean that either depression causes heart disease or heart disease causes depression. But that may not necessarily be true. Association of two variables does not in any way prove causation of one to the other. Many people with blue eyes often have blonde hair, but one trait doesn't necessarily cause the other. Both depression and heart disease have been linked in a number of research studies to magnesium deficiency, so it may well be they commonly appear together as a result of a modern, Western diets lacking in magnesium rich, whole foods.

If you put all of these known facts together, then it would seem highly logical to screen people suffering from nervous disorders, anxiety and depression for magnesium and other nutritional deficiencies before putting them on antidepressant drugs or treating them with counseling. This would be especially true for people manifesting other symptoms commonly associated with a magnesium deficiency such as heart palpitations, mitral valve prolapse, migraines, fibromyalgia and TMJ.

Unfortunately, medical treatments in the U.S. all too often are not based on inexpensive, research based nutritional treatments, but rather high profit margin drug therapy or long- term, expensive psychiatric therapy.

Interesting Links:

  • Magnesium-deficient diet alters depression- and anxiety-related behavior in mice - Researchers in Austria did a test with two groups of mice. One group was fed a normal diet and the other group received a diet with only 10% of their normal Mg requirements. When put through various tests, the mice with inadequate Mg in their food exhibited signs of both depression and anxiety compared to the well fed control mice.

  • Natural Remedies for Anxiety - The Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients notes that the symptoms of depression and the symptoms of Mg deficiency are "remarkably similar." The shared symptoms include fatigue, anxiety, insomnia and restlessness.




Related sections of interest:

Your Diet Might be Related to Anxiety and Depression

Insomnia - Natural Treatments

Overlooked Health Risks of Low Cholesterol

Eye and Facial Tics in Children

Dietary Help for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Can Diet Help Tourettes Syndrome?


Selected Links:

Why Prescription Antidepressants Are No Better Than Placebos - and may be worse. Article from Newsweek.

A majority of the medical experts who created the "bible" for diagnosing mental illness have undisclosed financial links to drug makers, says new study.

Yoga May Help Treat Depression, Anxiety Disorders Brain - scans showed boost in valuable brain chemical, according to recent study.

High vitamin B12 level and good treatment outcome may be associated in major depressive disorder.


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