What is depression?

Depression is a word we use to describe a pattern of negative feelings a person experiences. According to its severity, depression may affect a person’s ability to function properly in many instances. Physiologically, it is manifested by altered activity of specific neural circuits in the brain.

Depression affects more than 16 million adult Americans in any given year (1). Nearly 1 in 12 U.S. adults report having depression (2).

What are the different types of depression?

Everyone experiences sadness in their lives, but depression is more than just ups and downs. It is a serious condition that can affect many spheres of life.

With that in mind, there are two main types of depression: situational and clinical.

Situational depression is often temporary and caused by a tragic life event (such as loss and hardship), or a medical condition. Talking through the problem in therapy can usually address the condition. However, if it is not resolved, situational depression can turn into clinical depression (3).

Clinical depression is commonly known as major depression and is the more severe form. Research shows that clinical depression may have genetic links; 40-50% of depression’s cause is genetic, while the remaining 50% is due to physical and psychological trauma (2).

Clinical depression can alter a person’s ability to participate in regular, daily life activities and routines, sometimes for extended periods.

Treatment for clinical depression usually consists of medication, cognitive therapy, participating in support groups, or some combination of the three.

Statistically, twice as many women as men experience clinical depression (2).

Depression Symptoms

The most prevalent symptoms of depression are feelings of sadness and a general disinterest in activities. These are often seen as the basis for a range of other effects, including:



Sleep Disturbance:

Whole Body:

Apathy, general discontent, guilt, self-blame, hopelessness, lack of pleasure in activities, mood swings, lack of energy

Agitation, frequent crying, irritability, frustration, restlessness, social isolation

Early awakening, extreme sleepiness, insomnia, restless sleep

Loss of appetite, over eating, weight changes, fatigue

Lack of concentration, trouble remembering things, difficulty with decision-making, slowness in activity, constant negative thoughts and cyclical overthinking, thoughts and/or attempts at suicide
Mood: Apathy, general discontent, guilt, self-blame, hopelessness, lack of pleasure in activities, mood swings, lack of energy

Behavioral: Agitation, frequent crying, irritability, frustration, restlessness, social isolation

Sleep Disturbance: Early awakening, extreme sleepiness, insomnia, restless sleep

Whole Body: Loss of appetite, over eating, weight changes, fatigue

Cognitive: Lack of concentration, trouble remembering things, difficulty with decision-making, slowness in activity, constant negative thoughts and cyclical overthinking, thoughts and/or attempts at suicide

Magnesium and Depression

Many people with depression may not even know they are magnesium deficient. Magnesium’s role in depression is quite complex—here are some ways that the two are connected.

  Dopamine is linked with mood, motivation, and sensations of pleasure. It also plays a role in regulating sleep, attention, focus, and memory. Dopamine can increase goal-oriented behavior. A lack of dopamine can contribute to depression (6).

  Serotonin also affects mood. It is thought to regulate social behavior, sleep, memory, appetite, digestion, as well as sexual desire and function (7). Serotonin deficiency can cause a decline in feelings of pleasure, satisfaction, and well-being. Insufficient serotonin can contribute to depression and anxiety (6).
  For people in general, a lack of magnesium can cause depression-related symptoms such as apathy, mental numbness, and emotional indifference (5). When the body deals with increased stress, magnesium levels are depleted because magnesium is involved in almost all steps of the body’s stress response and recovery (4). Supplementing magnesium can help with the stress-related symptoms commonly seen with depression (4).

  Magnesium also facilitates the use of energy in every cell of the body. Lack of energy is a prevalent symptom of depression that increased magnesium can help offset.

  Without sufficient magnesium, neurons are incapable of releasing neurotransmitters (chemicals that carry signals between neurons) in the brain. Magnesium allows the ionic channels, gates, and pumps to function optimally, thereby facilitating the conditions for the release of neurotransmitters.

  Some key neurotransmitters that play a role in depression are dopamine and serotonin.

  When the body is magnesium deficient, important neurotransmitters are not released and cannot perform their roles, which in turn may cause various symptoms. If magnesium deficiency is causing an insufficient amount of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin to be released, supplementing magnesium to restore the imbalance could help with certain symptoms such as lack of motivation, emotional detachment, and irregular eating and sleeping patterns.

  Increased magnesium intake can help correct imbalances and thereby restore emotional equilibrium (8). Antidepressant medications can replace some of the neurotransmitters that are lacking in the brain. However, they are not effective for everyone and can induce unwanted side effects. Magnesium supplements can raise neurotransmitter levels naturally. Please be aware, however, that in some people, magnesium might cause upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea (9). These side effects can usually be avoided by taking the right amount of magnesium for your body. The recommended daily average dosage is 310-320 mg for women and 400-420 mg for men. It is possible to overdose on magnesium, so avoid taking more than the recommended daily dose.

If you are hesitant about taking antidepressants but are interested in another option, you may want to try taking magnesium supplements. Or, if you currently take antidepressants, you can take magnesium along with them—some studies show that supplementing magnesium can even increase the effectiveness of antidepressants (8).

Supplementing with magnesium is a safe, non-medicinal way to help depression symptoms by boosting your energy and mood.

If you are currently taking medications, check with your doctor before taking any magnesium supplement to make sure there is no adverse interaction. If you have kidney disease, be sure to check with your doctor before taking magnesium.

Our magnesium supplement—designed by a neuroscientist—has the optimum proportions of four elemental magnesium types. Each elemental magnesium type contributes a different benefit. Malate provides endurance, glycinate aids with energy, taurinate helps the heart, and citrate absorbs in the body best and improves digestion.

Health By Principle’s magnesium product is vegan, American-made, pharmaceutical grade, and produced in an FDA-approved laboratory without additives or fillers. Find out more here.

1. Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Facts and Statistics, 2018.
2. Brody, Debra J., et al., Prevalence of Depression Among Adults Aged 20 and Over: United States, 2013-2016. National Center for Health Statistics Data Brief No. 303, February 2018.
3. Wu, Brian, Situational depression vs. clinical depression. Medical News Today. December 2016.
4. Deans, Emily, Magnesium for Depression: A controlled study of magnesium shows clinically significant improvement. January 28, 2018.
5. Arnarson, Atli, 7 Signs and Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency. December 15, 2017.
6. Audesirk, T., et al., Biology: Life on earth with physiology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008.
7. McIntosh, James, What is serotonin and what does it do? Medical News Today, February 2018.
8. Ehrenfeld, Temma, Magnesium Might Boost Mood. September 2017.
9. WebMD, Magnesium: Vitamins and Supplements, 2018.

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