Essential elements in depression and anxiety. Part I

Pharmacol Rep. 2014 Aug;66(4):534-44. doi: 10.1016/j.pharep.2014.03.001. Epub 2014 Apr 2.


Essential elements are very important for the proper functioning of the human body. They are required for fundamental life processes such as cell division and differentiation and protein synthesis. Thus a deficiency of these essential elements is associated with an enormous health risk that can ultimately lead to death. In recent years, studies have provided valuable information on the involvement of essential elements in psychiatric disorders, in particular depression and anxiety. There is strong evidence indicating that deficiency of essential elements can lead to the development of depressive and/or anxiogenic behaviour and supplementation can enhance therapeutic effect of antidepressants and anxiolytics. This review presents the most important results from preclinical and clinical studies showing involvement of essential elements such as zinc, magnesium, lithium, iron, calcium and chromium in depression and anxiety. From these studies it is evident that different types of depression and anxiety respond to treatment at different receptors indicating that the underlying mechanisms are slightly different. Furthermore, administration of low dose antidepressants supplemented with an element is effective and can reduce unwanted side effects in different types of depression/anxiety.

Keywords: Depression; Lithium; Magnesium; Trace elements; Zinc.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antidepressive Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anxiety / drug therapy
  • Anxiety / etiology*
  • Anxiety / metabolism
  • Calcium / deficiency
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Depression / drug therapy
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Depression / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Iron Deficiencies
  • Lithium / deficiency
  • Lithium / metabolism
  • Magnesium Deficiency / complications
  • Magnesium Deficiency / metabolism
  • Trace Elements / deficiency
  • Trace Elements / metabolism*
  • Zinc / deficiency
  • Zinc / metabolism


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Trace Elements
  • Lithium
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Calcium