Did You Know Iron Deficiency Could Lead to Depression in Women

Did You Know Iron Deficiency Could Lead to Depression in Women

The impression that even the simplest things need more energy than you have is a frequent depression sign. This may also be caused by anaemia.

Your blood can't transfer as much oxygen as it should when you have anaemia. This has the potential to affect numerous parts of your body, including your brain.

Anaemia not only saps your energy but also has an impact on how you think and feel. Anaemia, especially iron-deficiency anaemia, has been associated with mental illnesses such as sadness and anxiety.

What is anaemia?

Anaemia is a disorder that limits the capacity of your blood cells to transfer oxygen. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), roughly a quarter of the world's population (1.62 billion) suffers from anaemia. The majority of these instances are caused by a lack of iron.

Depression and anaemia

One of the mental health disorders that insufficient iron may induce is depression. The basal ganglia, a part of your brain, has more iron than other parts of your brain. As a result, it reacts quickly to changes in iron levels.

The basal ganglia were traditionally assumed to be only responsible for movement, but new research reveals that it also influences how emotional cues are processed. As a result, if your iron level is low, your brain may not be able to interpret emotions effectively.

Self-reported sadness and self-reported iron deficiency anaemia were linked in a 2018 Japanese research involving 11,876 individuals.

Anxiety and anaemia

Anxiety symptoms were related to insufficient iron. Emotions such as anxiety are influenced by neurotransmitter stability and energy metabolism, both of which are influenced by iron levels. Changes in your energy and brain chemistry may make you feel nervous if your iron level is too low.

Mental health and anaemia

Hypoxia (low oxygen levels) caused by anaemia affects several parts of the body, including the brain. It may cause a variety of physical, cognitive, and behavioural health issues, including:

  • fatigue
  • weakness
  • heart rate fluctuation
  • dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • impediment of the mind (trouble remembering, learning, concentrating, or making decisions)
  • mood swings

The link between anaemia and mental health goes beyond long-term (chronic) blood oxygen deficiency. Iron deficiency anaemia, the most prevalent type of this illness, has the extra effect of a lack of iron.

Iron does more than only assist red blood cells in transporting oxygen. In addition to avoiding anaemia, iron has a role in a number of critical cognitive functions, including:

  • enzymes and proteins of the central nervous system (CNS)
  • The development of the central nervous system
  • Replication and repair of DNA
  • myelination of the white matter (brain cell insulation)
  • neurotransmitter systems development

Research published in 2013 found a relationship between iron deficiency and illnesses such as mood and developmental disorders.

It's thought that iron deficiency in childhood is associated with aberrant neuronal myelination (covering) and altered neurotransmitters, which lead to childhood and adolescent-onset mental disorders.

What are the causes of anaemia?

The kind of anaemia determines the aetiology. Iron deficiency anaemia, for example, is caused by a lack of iron in the body. It's possible that you don't get enough iron in your diet, or that you don't absorb it effectively. Iron loss may also occur as a result of blood loss caused by illnesses such as menstruation, ulcers, or trauma.

Other kinds of anaemia, on the other hand, may be caused by genetics or autoimmune.

Anaemia comes in many forms

There are various different varieties of anaemia, all of which may reduce the quantity of oxygen carried by your blood.

Anaemia due to a lack of iron

When you don't have enough iron to build the haemoglobin in your blood that transports oxygen, you have iron deficiency anaemia (IDA).

Pernicious anaemia 

A deficit in vitamin B12, which is essential for the production of healthy red blood cells, causes this kind of anaemia. Intrinsic factor, which aids in the absorption of B12, is occasionally absent in people with pernicious anaemia. Diet, illnesses, drugs, and surgery are some of the other factors.


Thalassemia is a blood disorder characterised by low haemoglobin levels. Your red blood cells can't transport enough oxygen if your haemoglobin levels are low.

Sickle cell disease 

Sickle cell disease is a hereditary disorder that affects certain red blood cells. These cells become atypically formed, stiff, sticky, and oxygen-deficient.

Aplastic anaemia 

When anything prevents the creation of new blood cells, aplastic anaemia develops, resulting in a low blood cell count. When your immune system destroys bone marrow cells, this is the most prevalent reason.

Coping strategies

Although depression may have a huge influence on your life, it is treatable. If you have iron-deficiency anaemia, it may be simple to cure with a change in diet or an iron supplement.

Changing your diet

Unless your iron levels are very low, many physicians advocate modifying your diet before taking an iron supplement.

Iron may be found in a variety of foods, including:

  • Red flesh
  • chicken
  • Beans
  • peas
  • leafy dark green veggies
  • cereals with added nutrients

Foods high in vitamin C improve iron absorption. Dairy products, tea, and coffee, on the other hand, are examples of foods that interfere with iron absorption. To get the most out of your dietary adjustments, acquaint yourself with these relationships.

Supplementing with iron

People with iron deficiency anaemia have a greater risk of mental illnesses, but this risk lowers when they take an iron supplement.

It's crucial to remember that too much iron may build up in your body and cause health problems. Before taking an iron supplement, you should get your iron levels checked with a blood test. Although iron is an important vitamin, too much of it may be just as harmful as not enough.

Improvements in sleep quality

Sleep hygiene is an important aspect of self-care. If you're having trouble getting enough restorative sleep, you may want to think about making your routine more consistent. Sleep hygiene methods such as caffeine cut-offs in the middle of the day and a lower bedroom temperature may also aid.

Exercising lightly

You may exercise if you have anaemia, but do it cautiously and under the guidance of a healthcare expert. Regular physical activity promotes circulation, sleep, and overall health.

If you exercise, start cautiously and keep your exercises brief since the anaemia may induce exhaustion or shortness of breath.

Take Away

A physiological disease like anaemia may sometimes exacerbate a mental health problem like depression. On the one hand, it may seem like you have more problems to deal with. Understanding how various disorders interact with one another, on the other hand, might make them simpler to treat. It is also very important to add iron-rich foods to your diet.

Once you've discussed an anaemia evaluation with a healthcare practitioner, you may take action to enhance your physical health, which will also benefit your mental health. This might include studying more about anaemia or seeking advice from a dietitian.