Anemia and depression: What is the link?

Anemia and depression are two health conditions that may have some connection. Research suggests that people with anemia may exhibit symptoms of depression, such as a bad mood, low self-esteem, and loss of interest in daily activities.

For example, a 2018 cross-sectional study Found a relationship between anemia and symptoms of depression.

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Symptoms of anemia can be similar to those of depression.

This article explores the relationship between anemia and depression and discusses symptoms, causes, risk factors, and available treatment options.

according to 2016 study examined the relationship between anemia and depression among healthy middle-aged adults, depressed people are more likely to be anemic than non-depressed people.

a 2018 cross-sectional study of 1,616 older adults suggest that anemia can cause symptoms of depression. In addition, people with depressive symptoms may have a higher prevalence of anemia than people without depression.

According to the National Library of MedicinePeople with anemia may experience some symptoms of depression, including fatigue, weakness, and a lack of energy.

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A 2022 study published in Journal of Affective Disorders It indicates that people with anemia may develop depression as a result of the following:

  • Decreased oxygen levels in the tissues of the body
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Impaired monoamine synthesis

According to a study published in Neurological and psychological diseases and their treatmentAnd the Anemia can affect a person’s mental health, causing psychological symptoms such as depression and cognitive function disorders.

In addition, if a person had a pre-existing mental health condition and did not receive treatment for it, anemia can exacerbate that condition.

Anemia and depression may have similar symptoms, but they are two separate conditions.

Symptoms of anemia

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH)Symptoms of anemia may develop slowly or quickly depending on the cause. Different types of anemia have similar symptoms, such as:

Symptoms of depression

A person with depression may have the following symptoms:

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  • exhaustion
  • Bad mood
  • changes in appetite
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Weight loss or gain
  • difficulty thinking
  • Lack of focus
  • Inability to make decisions
  • suicidal thoughts

Anemia has several types, each with distinct symptoms and an underlying cause. Common types of anemia include:

Iron deficiency anemia and depression

Iron deficiency anemia is The most common form from anemia.

This is due to a lack of iron in the body. The body needs enough iron to produce hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying component of red blood cells (RBCs).

according to Study 2020Iron deficiency anemia can increase a person’s risk of depression. Iron deficiency can cause low levels of serotonin, an important neurotransmitter and mood stabilizer.

Pernicious anemia and depression

Pernicious anemia is an autoimmune condition in which the body I can not Absorb enough Vitamin B12 or Cobalamin. This may be due to a deficiency of intrinsic factor, a glycoprotein that the body needs to absorb vitamin B12.

A survey conducted by the Pernicious Anemia Society found that 86% of the 1,300 participants had experienced emotional symptoms, including impatience, irritability, mood changes, and thoughts of suicide.

Research from 2015 indicates that pernicious anemia can cause neurological effects such as depression, mania, and psychosis.

The Main reasons of anemia are:

  • blood loss: Excessive blood loss can lead to anemia if the loss of RBCs is greater than the production of new RBCs. This also reduces the iron needed to produce new RBCs. Any condition that causes you to lose a lot of blood — including bleeding from your period, a serious injury, or surgery — can increase your chance of developing iron deficiency anemia.
  • age: Older adults may have a higher chance of developing anemia than people in other age groups. This may be due to chronic, age-related conditions or an iron deficiency that depletes RBCs.
  • family history: Anyone can inherit anemia if both parents carry the trait in their genes.
  • Other health conditions: Conditions such as cancer, autoimmune diseases, and infections can cause the body to produce fewer red blood cells than a person needs.

Health experts don’t know the exact cause of depression. However, they have identified some risk factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing this condition, Including:

This section looks at how doctors diagnose anemia and depression.

Diagnosis of anemia

To diagnose anemia, the doctor will ask questions about specific risk factors. They can too ranking The following tests to rule out some underlying causes:

  • RBC count, which measures the number of red blood cells in the body
  • Hemoglobin count, which measures the amount of hemoglobin in the blood
  • Hematocrit level, which measures the distance between the RBCs in the blood
  • The average erythrocyte count, which measures the average size of RBCs in the body

Diagnosis of depression

There are no specific diagnostic tests for depression.

However, the doctor may ask the person to complete a questionnaire to measure the severity of the person’s depression.

They may use the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, which consists of 17 or 21 questions to measure the severity of depression.

The Beck Depression Inventory can also help mental health professionals evaluate a person’s symptoms.

People can manage both anemia and depression in several ways.


If a person suffers from anemia and depression, the doctor will recommend a healthy, balanced, iron-rich diet that includes nuts, seeds, seafood, and dark leafy greens to replenish iron in the body.

They will also advise that the person consume foods rich in vitamin C and avoid foods that can inhibit iron absorption.

Playing sports

The doctor may recommend some light exercises to improve circulation and prevent fatigue.

According to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week can improve a person’s mood and increase their energy levels.

Iron supplements

a Study 2020 It has been found that taking iron supplements as recommended by a doctor can reduce the risk of mental disorders in people with anemia.

People who take iron supplements should stick to the dosage recommended by their doctor because taking too much can lead to iron poisoning.

Improve sleep

young 2015 study It indicates that iron deficiency anemia can affect a person’s sleep quality. Experts link lack of sleep to depression.

The doctor may recommend sleep hygiene practices to improve sleep quality, such as:

  • Reduce exposure to natural light
  • Limit television and phone use before bed
  • Avoid caffeine before bed

Psychiatric treatment

Psychotherapy or talk therapy can help people identify factors that may be causing depression.

It can also help them learn skills to deal with depression effectively. A person can try different approaches to psychotherapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and psychodynamic therapy.

The outlook for a person with depression and anemia depends on the individual.

Sometimes, people may deal with anemia and depression through dietary habits alone. However, some types of anemia and depression can be life-threatening and may require more in-depth treatment protocols.

A person may have a good outlook with early diagnosis and treatment.

According to a 2021 review, people can prevent some forms of anemia. A person can avoid iron deficiency anemia by eating a well-balanced diet and taking iron supplements if recommended by a doctor.

While a person may not be able to avoid anemia due to blood loss, prompt medical attention can improve the outcome.

Anemia occurs when a person does not have enough red blood cells circulating in the body.

Research suggests that people with anemia may be more likely to develop depression. This may be due to a lack of oxygen and lack of physical activity as a result of anemia.

If a person has symptoms of anemia, depression, or both, they should contact their doctor immediately.


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