Iron deficiency: Depression and Brain Fog

Posted by Tanya Shukla on

Iron deficiency anaemia has a close link to depression and anxiety.

Iron supports neurological function and development. Our brain requires chemicals called neurotransmitters to relay key information from one cell to another cell. This is essential in regulation of mood, memory and behaviour. Iron is required to make many of these neurotransmitters. Iron deficiency causes an imbalance in these chemicals/neurotransmitters which may lead to several psychological problems such as memory loss, depression, learning impairment and emotional disorder.

In patients with confirmed iron deficiency, iron supplementation could reduce risk of mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. It has also been found that patients with iron deficiency anaemia being treated with iron supplements had a lower risk of a sleep disorder.

Iron deficiency and Brain Fog:

A study in China found that iron deficiency anaemia was linked to poor cognitive performance amongst middle aged and elderly Chinese demographic. Cognitive decline worsened with lower haemoglobin levels. Often this is called “brain fog” or “mummy brain” where one finds it difficult to concentrate or think clearly. This is again linked to imbalances of neurotransmitters in the part of the brain that regulates mood and cognition, particularly the frontal cortex and the limbic system.

As per a review published in the Nutritional Review, the odds of depression double with iron deficiency.

  1. Qin et al. BMC Geriatrics, Vol 19:305 (2019)
  2. Lee et al. BMC Psychiatry, Vol 20:216 (2020)
  3. EHaem: Vol 3(1): 263-275 (2022)

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