With regard to iron deficiency and anemia, most people associate these conditions with strictly physical health. However, they can also have a strong impact on mental health and how the brain functions and how emotions are felt. The amount of nutrients consumed and utilized by the body, such as iron, can make even the healthiest of people experience mental distress or simply feel a bit “off” in their day-to-day lives.
This article will discuss the relationship between iron deficiency and mental health, including the connections between anemia and certain depressions and the causes of low iron and anxiety. With a better understanding of these connections, individuals prone to mental health problems can adjust their diets for improved wellness.
Why Iron Affects Mental Health
Iron does much more than just fuel hardworking muscles and keep the body strong. It is also highly utilized by the brain and nerves, and in fact, the earliest iron deficiency symptoms are usually neurological. These can include fatigue, confusion, and insomnia. But if an iron deficiency is allowed to continue without treatment, more serious and prolonged mental issues can arise.
Some people wonder, “Can anemia cause depression?” and the answer can be yes for some individuals. Scientists believe that an iron deficiency affects the brain by slowing down the processing of central neurons and can result in the onset of mental symptoms or make existing mental symptoms worse.
Mental Symptoms of Low Iron
In the human body, and iron deficiency can present itself in many ways, both physically and mentally. For example, there is a strong correlation between anemia and anxiety, as well as between iron deficiency and depression. In addition to anemia and anxiety related to it, low iron may also lead to feelings of hopelessness, irritability, restlessness, and poor mental focus. Therefore, iron supplementation is sometimes recommended for individuals who are diagnosed with ADHD and other psychiatric disorders because of the brain-iron connection.
How to Boost Iron to Support Mental Health
Mental health is very complex because there are so many factors that can affect the brain and mental functioning. But one way to promote better mental health is to increase iron levels in order to maintain proper brain functioning or to help battle a mental illness.
Upon testing for low iron and anxiety and determining that an iron deficiency may be to blame for certain symptoms, a health professional may recommend taking high-potency, over-the-counter iron supplements, such as Fergon. Eating iron-rich foods, such as liver, seafood, leafy greens, and nuts, can also help sustain iron levels in the body. In more severe cases of iron deficiency where food and supplementation are not sufficient to bring iron levels up to a normal level quickly, it may be necessary to explore the option of intravenous iron transfusions. However, iron deficiency and depression or anxiety caused by it can usually be treated to enable individuals to take back control of their lives and find the health and happiness they deserve.