Depression is common, places a large burden on the patient, their family and community, and is often difficult to treat. Magnesium supplementation is associated with improved depressive symptoms, but because the mechanism is unknown, it is unclear whether serum magnesium levels act as a biological predictor of the treatment outcome. Therefore, we sought to describe the relationship between serum magnesium and the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ, a measure of depression) scores. A cross-sectional analysis of medical records from 3604 adults (mean age 62 years; 42% men) seen in primary care clinics between 2015 and 2018, with at least one completed PHQ were included. The relationship between serum magnesium and depression using univariate analyses showed a significant effect when measured by the PHQ-2 (−0.19 points/mg/dL; 95% CI −0.31, −0.07; P
= 0.001) and the PHQ-9 (−0.93 points/mg/dL; 95% CI −1.81, −0.06; P
= 0.037). This relationship was strengthened after adjusting for covariates (age, gender, race, time between serum magnesium and PHQ tests, and presence of diabetes and chronic kidney disease) (PHQ-2: −0.25 points/mg/dL; 95% CI −3.33, −0.09; P
< 0.001 and PHQ-9: −1.09 95% CI −1.96 −0.21; P
= 0.015). For adults seen in primary care, lower serum magnesium levels are associated with depressive symptoms, supporting the use of supplemental magnesium as therapy. Serum magnesium may help identify the biological mechanism of depressive symptoms and identify patients likely to respond to magnesium supplementation.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited