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Anemia - Is it contributing to your mood disorder?

posted Mar 17, 2014, 8:48 AM by AndrewandSarah Witzel   [ updated Mar 17, 2014, 8:48 AM ]

Iron-deficiency anemia (when iron levels in the blood are below an established minimum) affects about 5-10% of women of childbearing age, and is likely higher in pregnant women. Anemia is also common in the postpartum period, and can occur even in women who had normal iron during pregnancy.

Some of the symptoms of anemia can mimic symptoms of depression, for example, fatigue and impaired concentration. It is essential that your healthcare provider rules out anemia when assessing a perinatal mood disorder. If you have not had a blood test for anemia yet, or are not sure if one has been done, ask. Not all healthcare providers routinely check iron status postpartum.

Iron-rich foods include meat, poultry, some seafood, fortified grain products, and legumes (lentils, chickpeas, dried beans, etc). Eating a vitamin C rich food (such as broccoli, strawberries, or oranges) with an iron-containing food increases absorption of iron. You may be advised you to use iron supplements if your iron stores are too low to be corrected by dietary changes. It is important not to use iron supplements without a diagnosis of iron-deficiency anemia and proper guidance and follow-up from your healthcare provider, as this be hazardous to your health.