*I am not a medical doctor and my advice or experience DOES NOT REPLACE a medical diagnosis or their professional opinion. I would recommend you also read the articles and references in the articles that I have linked here to gain a full understanding of what I am referencing to.
As you all know I suffer from depression.
I have had Post Natal Depression with all three of my babies and now I am on chronic depression medication long term. After seven months of being on my medication I have seen a marked improvement in my ability to function, to cope with stressful situations and to cope with the demands of being a mom to young kids.
There are, however, side effects that I am not enjoying and have been questioning these for a while. The medication, in my case, makes me feel like I live in a bubble. I cannot focus on too many things at once and continuous noises still send me into a mild panic. My libido has been affected (I know for some of you this wouldn’t be an issue, but I enjoy intimacy with my husband, and I am truly heart broken about this). Also I’ve become more and more likely to wake at night, 01H00 till 03h00 and not be able to get myself back to sleep again. Muscle cramps in my legs at night (not caused by my medication) have been a common occurrence since having babies and I am constantly tired, un-motivated and craving sugar and pastries all. The. Time.
I am grateful for the stability that the medication brings to my emotions, but all this extra stuff has been weighing me down, and I’ve been looking for answers.
One morning we took the kids to Spur for breakfast and hubby stumbled upon an article about Magnesium deficiency online (we take the moment of peace while the kids play to catch up on news and articles online). We read it together and guess what the symptoms are?
- Sensitivity to noise
- Sleep disorders
- Frequent headaches
- Tightness of the muscles (muscle aches and pains)
- Temperature swings
- Digestive Issues
I immediately identified with almost all of those symptoms. So we determined that taking a Magnesium supplement can’t hurt, it’s not a prescription drug, so after breakfast we headed off to the pharmacy to find the best Magnesium supplement available there.
In the meantime my research continued.
It seems that they are almost invariably low in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome.
From Dr Myhill’s article : Magnesium, Treating a Deficiency
Here’s what I’ve discovered about Magnesium, and this information has been found repeatedly in various places across the internet.
Magnesium is essential for many processes in the body, it helps regulate calcium, potassium and sodium. It is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body. It causes the release of ATP which is the energy your cells live on.
Causes of Magnesium deficiency:
- Refined sugars and processed foods, poor diet
- Increased consumption of dairy
- Increased consumption of alcohol, coffee and carbonated drinks
- Even some medications such as birth control pills.
Conditions Commonly associated with Mg deficiency include:
- Muscle Cramps
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Vascular Calcification
Common signs and symptoms associated with Mg deficiency include:
- Muscle tension/Cramping
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Menstrual cramps
- GI distress
So I can identify with most of these symptoms, and some of you who know me well will testify to my “GI distress” which has plagued me for years, going through all types of tests where doctors say I’m not diabetic, but my blood sugar and blood pressure play funny buggers with me especially in times of extreme anxiety and distress. I have highlighted the symptoms that affect me above.
So what’s my verdict after two weeks on a Magnesium supplement?
Based on the study done referenced in Carly Fraser’s article they recommend a dose of 230mg of Mg to make a noted difference. I chose the Solal Magnesium Glycinate, which contains 1110mg of Magnesium glycinate (amino acid chelate) which supplies 200mg of elemental magnesium (50% RDA).
I have only been taking ONE tablet a day (for the sake of my gut) instead of the recommended TWO and the change I have experienced is PHENOMENAL.
I no longer have that nervous tick, that constant jittery feeling (like when you drink too much coffee), I am sleeping like a log at night – no more midnight wake-up’s, I am rested and energised when I get up in the morning. My craving for sugar and sweet things has all but DISSAPEARED! I have managed to reduce my sugar in tea and coffee from two spoons to one and bit without having ANY cravings. I just want to eat fresh veggies and fruit all the time, as apposed to my usual need to eat pastries and cream all day. I no longer feel tired, my period came with a vengeance this month, but did not include the usual pain and miserable behavior. I haven’t had a cramp in my calf in two weeks. I’ve only had ONE GI episode, as apposed to three or four a week. Also, I am able to manage my life and stressful situations (my son got mild pneumonia this week) without having a meltdown and becoming completely useless to my family.
I have also somewhere in all this found the motivation to start exercising, doing sit-ups and push up’s, walking the dog, without feeling drained and exhausted afterwards, my libido has peeked it’s little head out of it’s hiding place and intimacy has become much more enjoyable (hubby is SO not complaining). So all around, a SIGNIFICANT improvement.
So what does this all mean?
This means that all this time of battling depression and PND, breastfeeding and having the life, literally, sucked out of me by my pregnancies and feeding has made my body low in various minerals, amino acids and elements that I never knew could make SUCH a large impact on my ability to function.
I have added an iron supplement recently, cause I have always been a little anemic, but the most important thing I’ve learned is this: Everyone’s body is different, we all function at different levels, some are able to function with a “medically normal level of iron/magnesium/calcium” but for others the “normal” level is too low. So we need to find out what is “normal” for us and go from there.
I still think it’s important to discuss any medications, symptoms and supplements that you intend taking with your doctor and I definitely don’t recommend coming off your depression medication without medical supervision (as this could be dangerous), I believe in finding a combination that works for you, your life and your family and especially your budget, cause this stuff can get expensive.
I am looking into alternatives to the spirulina tablets I take, like Wazoogles superfood powders that you put in shakes, and will be consulting with our local health store to find out if they have better options for iron and magnesium supplementation than the pharmacy. I am also going to have a discussion with my doctor about coming off the pill and the ramifications of that to my mental condition and also perhaps trying a lower dose of my anti-depressant, all of which I promise to fill you in on.
The last two weeks has been such a wake up call for me and my hubby that we are changing the way we live to include regular exercise, healthier alternatives to supplements and immune boosting, even totally changing our morning routine to make it all work for us both.
All I know is the difference was noticed in three days of taking the magnesium and I truly believe that if your body is healthy and getting what it needs to function, your mind will shortly follow suite. I am by no means saying that this is a “cure” for depression, what I’m saying is, this simple element has helped improve my quality of life with a noticeable difference. Perhaps this will help me have a better chance of coming off my medication sooner, but I’ll keep you up to date on all of it.