SEROTONIN, MAGNESIUM AND DEPRESSION
You may be familiar with serotonin, the body’s natural ‘feel-good’ brain chemical. Magnesium is important in the serotonin story because it is a necessary element in the release and uptake of serotonin by brain cells. With proper amounts of magnesium, nature makes sufficient serotonin and you experience emotional balance.
But when stress depletes magnesium, a vicious cycle spins out of control, and depression can occur. The body needs magnesium in order to release and bind adequate amounts of serotonin in the brain for balanced mental functioning.
The pharmaceutical industry has focused its research for the treatment of depression on Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Prozac, to capitalize on serotonin’s chemical effects instead of giving serotonin what it really needs – magnesium.
SSRIs create artificially elevated levels of serotonin in the body by preventing its breakdown and elimination; serotonin lingers longer in the brain and theoretically causes mood elevation. This is what is supposed to happen., but everyone has a different reaction to the manipulation of their brain chemicals. For some people prolonged rising levels of serotonin can liberate them from a long depression. For others the drug can lead to anxiety and irritability. A small but significant group can feel released from their apathy and act on suicidal and homicidal thoughts. Another group of people tend to have flattened moods in which they can neither weep nor laugh, keeping them from the extremes of depression or mania, but relegating them to a one-dimensional life.
This was Maggie’s situation. She was on Prozac and desperately trying to come off it because she was unable to cry or experience real emotions. Maggie was down to one quarter of a 10mg tablet but was afraid to stop in case her depression came back. She also had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, periodic muscle cramps, and constipation.
I asked her to have her magnesium tested, and her cardiologist said it was normal; he said she didn’t need magnesium but should continue to take her five prescription medications to control her symptoms. She called me when her GP thought her worsening muscle cramps were a major blood clot in the leg. We didn’t have time to ship a blood sample to the lab that performs red blood cell magnesium testing, so I encouraged her to take 300mg of magnesium twice a day and go for a Doppler scan to rule out blood clots. Fortunately the scan was negative, so Maggie was able to avoid several more medications to treat blood clots, and the magnesium was already working to relieve her symptoms. Within a few weeks Maggie was finally off the last small amount of Prozac and able to laugh and cry again.
Because depression can be so debilitating, even life-threatening, it’s understandable that doctors feel strong measures are required to combat it, but these strong measures don’t always work. The alternative that many doctors are missing is the nutrient connection. Magnesium deficiency is a potential cause for every type of depression. All treatment protocols should begin with adequate doses of this valuable mineral.
TREATMENT FOR ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION
Avoid food additives, artificial sweeteners, sugar and wheat. Eat a whole-foods diet – organic if possible – and avoid processed and junk food. Also read The Yeast Connection and Women’s Health (Crook and Dean, 2005) and IBS for Dummies (Dean and Wheeler, 2005) since both yeast and IBS are associated with anxiety and depression. Understanding and treating these conditions under the supervision of a knowledgeable practitioner can enhance use of the following supplements:
Magnesium citrate 300mg twice daily
Calcium citrate 500mg daily
B complex 50-100mg per day (derived in whole or in part from natural food sources)
5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HTP): 50-100mg half an hour before meals, three times a day (this is an amino acid that crosses the blood-brain barrier and is naturally converted to serotonin; it has the same action as Prozac, but no side effects).
St John’s wort 300mg standardized extract three times a day
Melatonin 2-3mg one hour before bedtime
5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HTP) 50-200mg half an hour before bedtime and on an empty stomach
Hops, valerian, skullcap herbal combinations – one or two x 500mg capsules before bedtime.
Exercise is excellent for treating both anxiety and depression (try yoga, walking, biking, Pilates, T-Tapp and swimming), as are prayer, meditation, long baths, journal writing and Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT).
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The above article is an excerpt from a book by Dr Carolyn Dean. You can get the book through this link -> The Miracle Magnesium