Can chromium help treat depression?

Chromium is a well-tolerated alternative treatment used for its antidepressant properties. Although the studies are mixed, many experts say chromium treats atypical depression, a condition characterized by increased appetite, hyperphagia (excessive hunger and abnormally large intake of solids by mouth), and carbohydrate craving, among other clinical features. No source claims it is dangerous or that it doesn’t work. Chromium is safe in children, pregnancy and lactation.

Drug Interactions

Chromium use should be coordinated with the prescribing physician of any immune-suppressive drug.

Since chromium may lower insulin resistance, people taking oral drugs for diabetes or using insulin should closely monitor their insulin levels while using chromium.

People taking beta-blockers may experience higher HDL cholesterol levels and increases in blood pressure while using chromium.

Side Effects

The most commonly reported side effects with chromium supplementation include:

  • Initial insomnia
  • Increased and vivid dreams
  • Tremor
  • Mild psychomotor activation
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Given the risk of “cycling,” caution should be used in people who have (or may develop) bipolar disorder.

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