Can Low Iron Cause Depression?

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Are you feeling tired and experiencing a lack of energy? Do you have to resist the temptation to stay in bed just a little bit longer in the morning? Do you have a racing heartbeat that sometimes accelerates to a panic attack? Are you down in the dumps and unable to pinpoint the reason for feeling so blue? If so, it may be time to have your iron levels checked.

When you go to the doctor to report these symptoms, your physician may suggest anti-depressive medications or a visit with a psychologist. Depression is a scary and very real condition that can lead to debilitating isolation, inability to function, and in extreme cases, the risk of suicide. An iron deficiency is something that is worth checking into before beginning a regime of anti-depressive drugs.

It is important to confer with your physician regarding your symptoms. In some cases, low iron can be part of the problem. Iron deficiency can cause headaches, extreme fatigue, mood swings, lack of appetite, irritability, and lethargy. When those symptoms occur, a feeling of helplessness can overtake you. Iron deficiency may not be the sole culprit when your physician assesses your condition, but it can contribute to the life-altering symptoms.

Iron deficiency can lead to feelings of anxiety, which will often trigger panic attacks. When a panic attack occurs, the heart rate accelerates, the chest tightens, and in some cases, muscle weakness, fear of choking and even fear of death will occur. Low iron levels can also lead to irregular heart rhythms and heart palpitations. When a person suffers from these symptoms on a regular basis, the feeling of depression and fear can be overwhelming. If iron deficiency is the problem, the symptoms will subside, and eventually stop once iron levels are elevated to the normal range.

Low iron can also cause mental disturbances that could lead to depression. When anemia occurs, due to low levels of iron in the blood, you may experience trouble concentrating, inability to focus, or feelings of paranoia. If iron rich blood is not circulating through your system, you may find it difficult to perform simple tasks such as reading, paying bills, or simply being able to think clearly. These feelings of inadequacy often lead to depression.

An estimated 19 million Americans are struggling with depression. The symptoms of this widespread condition prohibit sufferers from leading a normal, productive life. Your physician is your best resource for finding the underlying cause of your symptoms. You may be able to eliminate your symptoms of depression with simple dietary changes or supplements that increase the iron levels in your blood. Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the world, so have those iron levels checked if you’re experiencing disturbing symptoms.

Cite this page: N., Sam M.S., "Can Low Iron Cause Depression?," in, January 9, 2016, (accessed August 10, 2022).