Pinpointing a treatment to alleviate depression can be difficult. As you weigh all the options, here’s new research to consider: a study published in PLoS One found magnesium may help reduce the symptoms of depression. The open-label, crossover study included 126 adults diagnosed with and currently experiencing symptoms of mild-to-moderate depression, indicated by a score of 5 to 19 on the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9)—a standardized test measuring depression symptoms. During the two months prior to the study, the participants had no change in treatment for their depression; this included stable use of antidepressants, non-drug therapies, or no treatment.
For six weeks, the participants were randomly assigned to take four 500 mg tablets of magnesium chloride (providing a total of 248 mg of elemental magnesium) daily or no additional treatment. Then, for the next six weeks, they swapped: those who were not taking magnesium began taking it and vice versa. Over the twelve-week study, researchers assessed the participants for depressive symptoms via bi-weekly phone calls. They found that, regardless of age, gender, depression severity at the start of the study, or use of antidepressants or other therapies, after 6 weeks of magnesium supplementation:
The participants’ depression scores on the PHQ-9 were six points lower—indicating that symptoms were reduced—compared with no treatment.
The participants’ anxiety scores, measured using a similar standardized test for anxiety symptoms, were four points lower compared with no treatment.
A significant reduction in headaches was seen during magnesium treatment, reflecting a well-established positive effect of magnesium.
Not only did magnesium appear to reduce depressive symptoms, its effects were evident within two weeks, and it was well tolerated by the participants, suggesting that magnesium could be a good alternative or adjunct treatment for depression. But, before you stock up, keep in mind that this study did not include a placebo group, so we can’t say for sure whether the observed benefits were due to magnesium or a placebo effect. Nevertheless, because of magnesium’s long history of safe use, low cost, and beneficial effects in numerous health conditions, it may be worth a try. If you’re interested in trying magnesium for depression, talk with your psychiatrist or doctor first to be sure it’s a good choice for you.
Source: PLoS One