With health care cuts looming, low-cost magnesium a welcome option for treating depression

June 27, 2017
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Depression presents an enormous disease burden, with a reported 350 million people worldwide suffering from the disease, but traditional SSRI treatments carry a burden of their own - in dollars and side effects. New clinical research published today in PLoS One shows that over-the-counter magnesium appears safe and effective to treat mild to moderate depression.

Critical to such body functions as heart rhythm, blood pressure and bone strength, the mineral plays a role in combating inflammation in the body and has been proven to have an association with . However, few clinical trials have studied the supplement's effects.

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, and colleagues conducted a clinical trial of over-the-counter oral magnesium tablets for mild-to-moderate depression. Their results showed that magnesium is safe and effective and comparable to prescription SSRI treatments in effectiveness.

The researchers at the University of Vermont's Larner College of Medicine conducted an open-label, blocked, randomized cross-over trial involving 126 adults in outpatient primary care clinics. The study participants, who were currently experiencing mild-to-moderate depression, had a mean age of 52, with 38 percent of them male. Participants in the active arm of the study received 248 milligrams of elemental magnesium per day over six weeks, while those in the control arm received no treatment. Depression symptom assessments were conducted on all participants on a bi-weekly basis.

The study team found that in 112 participants with analyzable data, consumption of magnesium chloride for six weeks resulted in a clinically significant improvement in measures of depression and anxiety symptoms. In addition, these positive effects were shown quickly, at two weeks, and the supplements were well tolerated and similarly effective regardless of age, sex, or use of antidepressants, among other factors.

"This is the first looking at the effect of magnesium supplementation on symptoms of depression in U.S. adults," says Tarleton. "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."

Tarleton and colleagues say the next step is to see if their promising results can be replicated in a larger, more diverse population.

Explore further: Study finds tai chi significantly reduces depression symptoms in Chinese-Americans

Related Stories

Study finds tai chi significantly reduces depression symptoms in Chinese-Americans

May 25, 2017
A 12-week program of instruction and practice of the Chinese martial art tai chi led to significantly reduced symptoms of depression in Chinese Americans not receiving any other treatments. The pilot study conducted by investigators ...

Cognitive behavioral therapy delivered online effective for treating depression

May 22, 2017
Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) delivered online is effective for treating depression in adults concludes a new meta-analysis presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in San Diego.

Safron a potential treatment for adolescent depression

March 30, 2017
Murdoch University researchers are investigating whether the spice saffron could be used to treat depression and anxiety in adolescents.

Collaborative care provides improvement for older adults with mild depression

February 21, 2017
Among older adults with subthreshold depression (insufficient levels of depressive symptoms to meet diagnostic criteria), collaborative care compared with usual care resulted in an improvement in depressive symptoms after ...

Vitamin D supplementation may be beneficial in depression

April 7, 2014
(HealthDay)—Vitamin D supplementation has no overall effect on depressive symptoms, but may have a significant effect for those with clinically significant depression, according to a review published online March 14 in ...

Link between heart disease risk factors and depression is biological, not behavioral

May 11, 2017
Biology, rather than personal behavior, may be responsible for the link between depression and risk factors for heart disease, according to a new study from Rice University.

Recommended for you

A walk at the mall or the park? New study shows, for moms and daughters, a walk in the park is best

November 17, 2017
Spending time together with family may help strengthen the family bond, but new research from the University of Illinois shows that specifically spending time outside in nature—even just a 20-minute walk—together can ...

When male voles drink alcohol, but their partner doesn't, their relationship suffers

November 17, 2017
A study of the effect of alcohol on long-term relationships finds that when a male prairie vole has access to alcohol, but his female partner doesn't, the relationship suffers - similar to what has been observed in human ...

Risk of distracted driving predicted by age, gender, personality and driving frequency

November 17, 2017
New research identifies age, gender, personality and how often people drive as potential risk factors for becoming distracted while driving. Young men, extroverted or neurotic people, and people who drive more often were ...

Spanking linked to increase in children's behavior problems

November 16, 2017
Children who have been spanked by their parents by age 5 show an increase in behavior problems at age 6 and age 8 relative to children who have never been spanked, according to new findings in Psychological Science, a journal ...

Generous people give in a heartbeat—new study

November 15, 2017
Altruistic people are said to be "kind hearted" - and new research published in the journal Scientific Reports shows that generous people really are more in touch with their own hearts.

Teenage depression linked to father's depression

November 15, 2017
Adolescents whose fathers have depressive symptoms are more likely to experience symptoms of depression themselves, finds a new study led by UCL researchers.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.