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How Does Anemia Affect Mental Health?

By Rheyanne Weaver HERWriter
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“The symptoms of fatigue, shakiness, light-headedness and racing heart can put individuals at risk for relapsing to stimulant type drugs (cocaine, adderall, ritalin) to try to boost energy, or alcohol to try to calm the racing heart and what feels like bad nerves.”

Douglas Beach, a doctor, said in an email that anemia usually isn’t the cause of mental health issues.

“Anemia [is] usually a sign or manifestation of [an] underlying disease process,” Beach said. “If the degree of anemia is severe, it can cause fatigue and exertional shortness of breath. Fatigue can have a direct impact on one's overall well-being and lead to feeling ‘depressed.’ However, mild anemia should have no effect. On the other hand, the underlying disorder causing the anemia is more likely to affect mood, such as chronic diseases like kidney disease, inflammatory arthritis, and an underactive thyroid. Anemia from vitamin deficiencies, such as B12 deficiency, can rarely be associated with depression and memory loss/dementia.”

How do you think anemia affects mental health? Do you have anemia and have you suffered any mental health effects? Share your stories below.


Familydoctor.org editorial staff. Anemia: When Low Iron Is the Cause. Web. August 3, 2011. http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/blood/009.html

National Center for Biotechnology Information and the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Anemia – PubMed Health. Web. August 3, 2011.

Harrison, Nzinga. Email interview. August 3, 2011.
Beach, Douglas. Email interview. August 2, 2011.

Reviewed August 4, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Jody Smith

Add a Comment1 Comments


Very interesting article .Anemia is what I live with and all thoses symptoms is what I have I use to take Slow K medicine tablets but stop taking it,for whatever reason I can't remember but I know for sure that I felt much healthier when I took Slow K.I think with perimenopausal symptoms it could help a great deal because I am really going through a tough spell right now.

August 6, 2011 - 2:08pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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