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to present HEALTHY TIPS, an informative series of tips, insights and suggestions related to your health and well being. Check back on the first of each month for a new one. We hope you enjoy them.
The simple mineral that could replace anti-depressants
If you’ve ever sought professional help for depression, then you’ve likely walked away with a prescription for a certain type of drug — selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
SSRIs are the most widely-used treatment for depression. Even if you’ve never taken them, you probably recognize popular brand names like Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft and Lexapro from commercials.
Unfortunately, these pervasive pills leave much to be desired…
When SSRIs first came out, doctors thought they were 80 to 90 percent effective at treating depression and certain anxiety disorders, so they began passing them out like candy.
But it turns out, those initial statistics were manipulated by prescription drugs companies. They’d concealed studies with negative results to sell more drugs and make more money.
SSRIs are closer to only 33 percent effective.
Of course, SSRIs have more side effects than a placebo — like insomnia, skin rashes, headaches, joint and muscle pain, stomach upset, nausea, diarrhea, internal bleeding, low sex drive, tics, muscle spasms, repetitive muscle movement and compulsive restlessness.
So SSRIs aren’t effective. And with that long list of side effects, it’s a wonder anyone is still taking them…
The problem is, most people don’t know how else to treat their depression. But a common mineral could save the day for depression-sufferers everywhere.
In fact, a recent study suggests this mineral may be effective enough to step in and steal the crown away from SSRIS as the go-to treatment for depression…
Magnesium diminishes depression
In one of the first clinical trials to study the effect of magnesium on depressed people, researchers from the University of Vermont found that magnesium supplements could be an effective treatment for depression.
The study included 126 adults with mild to moderate depression. After six weeks of taking 248 milligrams of elemental magnesium per day, many of them showed a significant improvement in their depression and anxiety symptoms.
Even more exciting, it didn’t take the full six weeks for participants to experience an improvement in their mood. Many experienced a positive difference within two weeks. And barely anyone experienced negative side effects either. Only one person had nausea and lethargy that was significant enough to stop taking the supplement.
“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,” said Emily Tarleton, MS, RD, CD, a graduate student in Clinical and Translational Science and the bionutrition research manager in the University of Vermont’s Clinical Research Center.
Now, researchers don’t know exactly why magnesium does the trick for depression, but they have a few theories…
One theory relates to how magnesium affects your brain chemicals — particularly serotonin. Low magnesium levels have been shown to reduce your brain’s production of serotonin. And, as you probably know, low serotonin levels are thought to be one of the primary culprits behind depression.
Inflammation may have something to do with it as well. Studies show that magnesium fights inflammation, and inflammation has been tied to depression in previous studies.
Should you take more magnesium?
Now, if you’re thinking about changing the way you treat your depression, it’s a good idea to partner with a trusted healthcare professional first. Depression is a serious disease, so you don’t want to take these changes lightly. It helps to have a health expert available to offer guidance as you’re getting your treatment approach right.
When it comes to using magnesium to treat your depression, it’s generally pretty safe. You can even take it while you’re still taking your SSRI antidepressants. Just avoid magnesium salicylate and magnesium sulfate, because they may cause a negative reaction with certain SSRIs. Your body tends to absorb magnesium citrate best anyway, so look for that. You can take up to 400 mg per day. And, who knows? Maybe magnesium is the missing link in your depression treatment plan.
The best news is that you don’t need a doctor or a prescription to lift depression. You can do positive things, focus on those things and people for which you are most grateful, find things you love to do and share your good experiences with others.
Exercising can help with this; it boosts the feel-good chemicals in the body and gets the blood moving to help the body feel better. Eating well nourishes body and brain, too. Meditating or engaging in yoga or tai chi can also help reduce stress and relax body and mind.
When you can move the body, eat well, reduce stress and get adequate deep sleep, it is easier to feel good in your body. Feeling good in the body is a fundamental part of feeling good about life and your place in the world. From that vantage point you can think better thoughts, express gratitude and seek to carry out random acts of kindness. A more self-directed, healthy and proven remedy for the symptoms of depression has not been found. Yes, sometimes the simplest solutions are the strongest solutions. Have fun!
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