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Is your depression the type that causes carb cravings, weight gain, and fatigue in addition to your low mood? If so, you’re certainly not alone, despite the fact that you have what is classified as “atypical depression” in the medical world. Up to 42% of individuals seeking treatment for depression have atypical depression. If you relate to this, studies show that supplementing with the trace mineral chromium should be in your plan for beating depression naturally.
Harvard Researchers Endorse Chromium for Atypical Depression Symptoms
“Chromium has a beneficial effect on eating-related atypical symptoms of depression, and may be a valuable agent in treating atypical depression,” according to researchers from the Depression Clinical and Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School. Other symptoms of atypical depression, besides the carb cravings, weight gain, and fatigue, can include what is referred to as “mood reactivity” – a highly reactive mood where extreme mood swings are experienced. This might include, for example, the ability to experience at least a 50% improvement in mood following exposure to a positive event or on the other hand “leaden paralysis” (the feeling that one’s limbs are weighed down like lead, and hypersensitivity to criticism or rejection).
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Chromium Supports Healthy Blood Sugar Metabolism
Many people with sugar cravings, diabetes, prediabetes, insulin resistance, and hypoglycemia rely on chromium supplements to help stabilize blood sugar, improve insulin sensitivity, and decrease sugar cravings. Clinical research backs up chromium’s clinical effectiveness in these conditions, as well as in atypical depression characterized by carb cravings and weight gain. The study (described below) demonstrates how chromium can be used for beating depression naturally in individuals with severe carb cravings.
Chromium Reduces Carb Cravings, Appetite Increases, Increased Eating, and Mood Swings
A study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Practice studied 113 patients with atypical depression. In those patients with the highest levels of carb cravings, chromium supplementation led to “significantly greater reductions” than placebo in carb cravings, appetite increase, increased eating, and mood variations throughout the day. In the group with the highest carb cravings, 65% of those taking chromium versus 33% of the placebo-taking group had “significantly greater improvements” on standard depression rating scales. The chromium was well tolerated throughout the study and treatment-associated adverse events were minimal and not statistically or clinically different from those seen in the placebo group.
“These results suggest that the use of chromium picolinate may be beneficial for patients with atypical depression who also have severe carbohydrate craving,” said John Docherty, M.D., the study’s lead investigator and adjunct professor at Cornell University.
The “How-To’s” for Beating Depression Naturally with Chromium
If you want to try beating depression naturally with chromium, look for a chromium supplement in the form of chromium picolinate. This is chromium bound to picolinic acid to create chromium picolinate, and it improves absorption of chromium in the body. Your total daily dose of elemental chromium should be 600 mcg. Some people find that even higher doses are more effective. You can safely go up to 1000 mcg per day.
And don’t forget that sugars and simple carbs themselves may be partly leading to those depressed feelings, fatigue, and cravings. So part of beating depression naturally needs to center on stabilizing blood sugar by eating regular meals and snacks based on whole foods that include plenty of fiber, lean protein, healthy fats, and phytonutrients from plants. Following these guidelines along with taking a chromium supplement can give you a huge advantage in curing your carb cravings and your low mood.
 Weinstock LM, Munroe MK, Miller IW. Behavioral activation for the treatment of atypical depression: a pilot open trial. Behav Modif. 2011 Jul;35(4):403-24.
 Iovieno N, Dalton ED, Fava M, Mischoulon D. Second-tier natural antidepressants: review and critique. J Affect Disord. 2011 May;130(3):343-57.
 Docherty JP, Sack DA, Roffman M, Finch M, Komorowski JR. A double-blind, placebo-controlled, exploratory trial of chromium picolinate in atypical depression: effect on carbohydrate craving. J Psychiatr Pract. 2005 Sep;11(5):302-14.
Originally published in 2012, this blog has been updated.