Harnassing magnesium to combat mental health issues

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Back in the June issue of The Journal of Natural Health Solutions, I wrote about the scandalous short-comings in our mental health services following a string of budget cuts. I feel strongly that mental health issues like depression and anxiety should be properly addressed and given the same priority as physical health.

There’s no denying that antidepressants can make a real difference for some patients. However, they can come with real drawbacks. A problem with commonly-prescribed drugs, such as Prozac and Seroxat, is that they can take several weeks to work and come with a long list of side-effects including diarrhoea, vomiting, dry mouth, anxiety and headaches. They can also cause dependency and are even linked to fatal side effects. For instance, the drug Seroxat may increase the risk of suicide six-fold. In fact, every antidepressant licensed since 1987 has been associated with a higher risk of suicide.

While antidepressants may not be the answer for everyone, leaving depression and anxiety untreated certainly isn’t. The road to recovery can be much quicker if you take a holistic approach, such as following a healthy balanced diet, taking regular exercise (even just 10 minutes a day can help alleviate depression), minimising stress and seeking help in the form of counselling.

According to recent research findings, supplementing with magnesium could also help reduce depression and anxiety symptoms.

The randomised, crossover trial – carried out at the University of Vermont, in the U.S. – included 126 men and women diagnosed with ‘mild’ to ‘moderate’ depression. Sixty-two participants received a daily supplement that contained 248 milligrams of elemental magnesium from magnesium chloride for six weeks, followed by a six week period during which no supplement was taken. The remainder of the group received no supplementation during the first six weeks and a magnesium supplement during the latter part of the trial. Questionnaires, in which subjects rated their depression and anxiety, were administered at the beginning of the study and every two weeks during the treatment periods.

Six weeks of magnesium supplementation was associated with a significant reduction in depression scores, however, scores did not improve during the control periods. Anxiety also improved during magnesium supplementation, but worsened during the control portion of the trial. In addition, headaches were less likely to be experienced in association with magnesium supplementation in comparison with no treatment.

Most patients who too took magnesium experienced improvements within two weeks of starting supplementation. However, improvements in depression scores diminished after two weeks of ceasing supplementation.

Commenting on the findings, Emily K. Tarleton and her fellow researchers, said: “The results are very encouraging, given the great need for additional treatment options for depression, and our finding that magnesium supplementation provides a safe, fast and inexpensive approach to controlling depressive symptoms.”

The researchers then went on to add their usual spiel that “long-term effectiveness is unknown and longer trials are needed.”

However, while the jury may still be out on magnesium’s long-term success rate, for those suffering ‘mild’ to ‘moderate’ depression it certainly can’t hurt to give magnesium a try… if the research findings are anything to go by, then it could get to work in as little as two weeks and comes with minimal side effects.

Here's to your good health,

Rachael Linkie
Managing Editor
Journal Of Natural Health Solutions

Sources:

BMJ 2006; 333: 92-5

PLoS One, 27 June 2017

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