Living with depression is hard, so you likely want to find a treatment that helps. Low magnesium levels may trigger depression symptoms, so consuming more magnesium may help manage depression. You can increase your magnesium levels by eating foods that are high in magnesium, drinking mineral water, or taking a supplement. Additionally, it’s best to combine this with lifestyle changes and possibly other alternative treatments. However, see your doctor to confirm your diagnosis, get care for severe symptoms, and create a treatment plan that’s right for you.
Method 1. Consuming More Magnesium
1. Get a blood test to find out if you have a magnesium deficiency. Depression can be caused by a magnesium deficiency. Since this is an easily tested condition, ask your doctor for a blood test to check for a magnesium deficiency. Certain stomach and kidney disorders can affect how much magnesium your body absorbs. Additionally, the majority of Americans are not ingesting enough magnesium, as per the recommended daily amounts.
- Your doctor can provide guidelines on how to increase your intake of magnesium.
- Symptoms of a magnesium deficiency include anxiety, insomnia, irritability, confusion, abnormal heart rhythms, hyperventilation, agitation, nausea, fatigue, muscle spasms, low blood pressure, vomiting, and seizures.
- Your magnesium levels may be depleted by too much coffee, soda, salt, alcohol, or diuretics. It can also be lowered by excessive sweating, heavy menstrual periods, and long-term stress.
2. Eat magnesium-rich foods to boost your levels. Magnesium is present in many foods, especially green, leafy vegetables. To help up your general levels of magnesium, you need to increase your daily intake of magnesium through foods. Foods that are rich sources of magnesium many different plant based foods that you can incorporate into recipes and you meals every day.
- Foods that are rich in magnesium include tofu, legumes, whole grains, all-bran cereal, whole wheat flour, oat flour, brown rice, oatmeal, chocolate, and cocoa powder.
- Leafy green vegetables to try include mustard greens, collard greens, beet and turnip greens, Swiss chard, and spinach.
- Also try to eat more nuts such as Brazil nuts, pine nuts, black walnuts, peanuts, almonds, pistachios, and cashews. You can also include pumpkin seeds and squash seeds for more magnesium.
- There are many herbs, spices, and seaweeds that supply magnesium, such as agar seaweed, dried mustard, dill, powdered celery, sage, basil, fennel seed, tarragon, poppy seed, coriander, marjoram, and cumin.
3. Drink mineral water to easily consume more magnesium. Mineral water has many helpful ingredients that aren’t available in normal water. If you drink at least two liters of mineral water a day, you will stay hydrated as well as get up to 25 percent of the daily recommended intake of magnesium. Look at the label of your mineral water to see how much it contains. It should have between 20 mg to 110 mg of magnesium per liter.
- Studies have shown that magnesium absorption from natural mineral water is increased when drank with meals instead of between meals.
4. Take a magnesium supplement if your doctor approves it. Magnesium gluconate, magnesium lactate, and magnesium citrate are recommended forms of magnesium supplements. These forms of magnesium are absorbed easily by the body. On average, an adult should have at least 350 mg of magnesium per day. Children should only get between130 to 240 mg of magnesium per day.
- Without your doctor’s approval and guidance, never give magnesium supplements to a child, a person with kidney or heart problems, or people with gastrointestinal disorders.
- If you are pregnant, your need for magnesium increases. Other situations where your magnesium intake should increase are surgery or illness recovery, and athletic training. If you want to take magnesium supplements, ask your doctor about the correct and recommended daily intake.
5. Watch for side effects of magnesium supplements. While magnesium supplements are generally safe, they aren’t right for everyone. They may cause side effects in some cases, especially if you ingest too much or you’re taking medication. Before you take it, check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure it’s safe for you. Then, call your doctor if you notice any of the following side effects:
- Trouble breathing
- Muscle issues
- Vision problems
- Increased or decreased urination
- Slow heartbeat
Method 2. Managing Depression With Lifestyle Changes
1. Exercise for 30 minutes every day. Exercise has both psychological and physical benefits. It helps improve your mood, reduce anxiety, and helps boost your confidence. It also can improve other health problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and arthritis. A single exercise session may help your depression for hours, and exercising regularly may significantly reduce depressive episodes over time. You and your doctor can define a fitness plan that will help manage your depression. Some ways to make sure you get enough exercise are:
- Try to get at least 2 ½ hours of moderate-intensity exercises each week total, such as brisk walking, stretching, jogging, or swimming. Alternatively, try to get 1 ¼ hours of high-intensity workouts each week, such as spinning, intense strength training, or sports.
- Listen to music, an audio book, or a podcast to keep yourself interested and motivated while exercising if you find it hard to commit. Also find a workout buddy to help keep you going. Mix up your workouts and try fun exercises like Zumba.
- Avoid exercising three to four hours before bedtime. This late night burst of energy can change and interrupt your sleep patterns, which can worsen your anxiety.
2. Sleep more by following a sleep routine. Sleep deprivation increases the production of stress hormones, which cause depression and anxiety. Depression is linked with insomnia, which means adequate sleep every night can help ease depression. To get linked up with your sleep cycle, create a sleep schedule that promotes better sleep at night.
- Don’t lay in bed too long if you can’t sleep. Get up and move around for a few minutes, then get back into bed. Perform a relaxing task such as reading or listening to music.
- Make sure your bed covers are comfortable and your mattress supports your body. Adjust the temperature in your room to a cool temperature that will help induce sleep.
- Don’t perform activities, such as watching TV, using electronic devices, doing work, eating, or exercising, before bed. Also avoid products with caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and sugar in the four to six hours leading up to bedtime. These can become stimulants to promote wakefulness.
- The light emitted by a TV or electronic device can slow down the production of melatonin, which helps you sleep.
3. Manage your stress to improve your overall mood. While stress is a normal part of life, excessive stress may lead to depression, anxiety, and various other issues and conditions. Achieving relaxation after a stressful event becomes more difficult as you age. To avoid stress, practice meditation, do calming exercises such as yoga and tai chi, and make time for fun activities. Other ways to reduce stress are:
- Slow, calming breathing in a quiet place
- Putting your energy into thinking about positive things in your life
- Shifting your priorities in your daily routine to eliminate unneeded tasks
- Surround yourself with humor, which research shows can be an effective way to cope with everyday stress
- Listening to relaxing music or watching your favorite TV show or movie
4. Steer clear of drugs and alcohol. Alcohol and drugs can trigger symptoms of depression, which worsen as you continue to take them. Over the long term, this will make your depression harder to treat. Dependence on alcohol has been linked to an increase in anxiety.
- Limit your daily intake of alcohol to the recommended one drink per day for women, two for men. Avoid drugs all together.
- Consult your doctor or therapist if you need help with alcohol or substance use.
Method 3. Trying Alternative Treatments
1. Try St John’s wort to help improve your depression. St. John’s wort is a herb that can help mild to moderate depression. You can buy it as a liquid extract, in capsule form, as tablets, or as an ingredient in commercial tea. Talk to your doctor about which form is the best for your current situation and whether or not St. John’s wort is safe for you to use.
- Supplements are standardized to 0.3% hypericin concentration, which is one of the active compounds in the herb. The supplement should be taken three times a day with a dose of 300mg. It can take three to four weeks for the herb to get into your system, which means it may take this long to show improvements.
- Don’t stop taking St. John’s wort all at once. There will be unpleasant side effects if you do. Instead, gradually lower the amount you take every day.
- People with attention deficit disorder and bipolar disorder should not use St. John’s wort. Also, do not use St. John’s wort if you are taking medications such as antidepressants, sedatives, birth control pills, or allergy drugs, or if you are pregnant and/or breastfeeding. Avoid grapefruit and grapefruit juice while using St. John’s wort
2. Take fish oil to boost your omega-3 levels. Fish oil helps with brain function due to the omega-3 fatty acids. Individuals with depression may have lower levels of brain chemicals called EPA and DHA in their blood, which are two substances found in fish oil. Eat fish or seafood a few times a week to get plenty of omega-3s. Eat salmon, mussels, sardines, herring, oysters, trout, and canned white tuna. You can also take over-the-counter supplements.
- Fish oil should not be used as the only form of depression medication, but it may be helpful in addition to prescribed medications or other treatments.
- If you’re pregnant or nursing, talk to your doctor before taking supplements or increasing your intake of omega-3s.
- Avoid eating raw seafood, shellfish, tilefish, king mackerel, and shark. These all have high levels of mercury.
3. Increase your vitamin C to help reduce fatigue. Studies have shown that individuals with vitamin C deficiencies are more likely to feel fatigued and depressed. To avoid this, increase your daily intake of vitamin C. You can eat more food with vitamin C or take a dietary supplement. Eat more natural sources of vitamin C, such as red or green peppers, oranges, grapefruit, limes, lemons, spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes, mango, papaya and cantaloupe.
- For supplements, take two or three doses of vitamin C per day that total 500 mg daily. Try to stay under 2000 mg per day between food and supplements. Be aware that higher doses of Vitamin C can cause diarrhea.
- Smoking depletes vitamin C, which means smokers need an additional 35 mg per day.
- Ask your doctor before taking supplements if you’re on other medications, herbs, or supplements.
4. Try 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) to help increase your serotonin levels. This chemical is made in your body, derived from tryptophan, and becomes serotonin, a mood-regulating neurotransmitter. 5-HTP may have a help with sleep, mood, anxiety, appetite, and pain sensation.
- 5-HTP may work as well as some SSRI antidepressants (like Prozac and Zoloft) that are used to treat people with mild-to-moderate depression.
Method 4 . When to Seek Medical Care
1. See your doctor to get a diagnosis if you have symptoms of depression. Depression is a mental health condition that causes you to lose interest in your daily activities, to lack energy, and to feel persistent sadness. You may experience it for a short period of time, or it may be a lifelong condition. It’s important to confirm that you have depression so that you can find the right treatment program for you. See your doctor if you have the following symptoms:
- Overall feelings of hopelessness, sadness, or emptiness
- Irritable or frustrated outbursts, often over little things
- Loss of interest in many or all general activities and meaningful relationships
- Loss of sleep due to insomnia and hypersomnia
- A general loss of energy and overall fatigue, even when not exerting yourself
- Changes in eating patterns
- Feelings of worry, anxiety, or agitation, often for no reason
- Feeling guilty about nothing or altogether worthless
- Constant fixation on past failures, where you blame yourself for things that you shouldn’t
- Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, and remembering
- Physical problems that have no cause, such as headaches
2. Get immediate care for self harming behaviors or severe symptoms. Struggling with depression is really hard, but you aren’t alone, even though it might seem that way. You need to reach out for help if your depression is seriously interfering with your life or triggering harmful behaviors. Talk to someone you trust so they can help you get help, or visit your doctor immediately to seek treatment if you experience any of the following:
- Panic attacks, social anxiety, or extreme uneasy feelings
- Relationship problems, family issues, work difficulties, or problems at school
- Purposeful social isolation
- Alcohol or substance abuse
- Self-mutilation, such as cutting
- Suicidal feelings – Call 911 or go to the emergency room
3. See a therapist to overcome or manage your depression. Depending on the cause of your depression, your therapist can help you work through your feelings or learn strategies for controlling your condition. They can help you recognize problematic thoughts, learn coping skills, and change your thoughts and behaviors.
- Ask your doctor for a referral to a psychiatrist, psychologist, counselor, or other mental health professional. As another option, ask your friends or loved ones for a recommendation.
- You may also be able to attend a free support group in your area.
4. Work with your doctor to create a treatment plan for you. Managing your depression may be tricky because your needs are unique to you. Generally, it’s helpful to combine treatments to help them be more effective. Your doctor can help you decide what’s best for you, and they’ll monitor your progress so you can make informed changes if they’re necessary.
- For instance, your doctor may help you decide which supplements you can take, what lifestyle changes may benefit you, and where you can go for talk therapy. Additionally, they can help you decide when it’s best to try medication to treat depression.
- You don’t have to take medication if you don’t want to.
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