The Psychological Effects of Low Potassium

Potassium is one of the most abundant minerals found in the body. It constitutes 70 percent of the positive ions in your cells and is central to electrical and cellular function. When deficiencies of potassium occur, you may experience symptoms such as excessive thirst, muscle weakness, constipation, heart palpitations, arrhythmias and dizziness. Surprisingly, low levels of potassium can also affect you psychologically: Mental lethargy, depression, mood swings, psychosis, disorientation and confusion are all examples of mental disorders that can manifest.

Potassium deficiency can result in mental lethargy. Credit: Comstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Mental Fatigue

Potassium is essential for learning and memorization. If your body is deficient in potassium, you may experience difficulty in focusing, retaining information or completing specific tasks. Mental lethargy or fatigue is generally accompanied by stress and frustration from being unable to perform at a desired level, which in turn can affect your work performance at your job or school. Pay attention to your diet to ensure you are receiving sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals, advises the Better Health USA website in an article titled "Mental Fatigue." A diet consisting of processed and junk foods can lead to low levels of potassium, so make sure you eat a nutritious and balanced diet that contains foods rich in potassium. Bananas, prunes, turkey, beets, spinach and salmon are all high in potassium. The article also suggests partaking in regular exercise to boost oxygen levels to your bloodstream to combat mental fatigue.

Depression

A 2010 article on the All About Depression website reported that depression affects 19 million Americans yearly; 10 to 25 percent of those affected are women, and 5 to 12 percent are men. An article on the Health in Aging website reported that depression could develop with changes in body chemistry and nutritional deficiencies in vitamin B12 and potassium. Depression is a serious condition that can impact and affect many areas of your life. When depressed, you may also experience anxiety attacks, insomnia, irrational thinking, guilt and muscular aches and pains. Other symptoms related to depression include a short temper, irritability, fatigue, weight loss or gain, and a lack of interest in regular daily activities. Depression can also trigger anxiety disorders and may lead to suicidal thoughts in extreme cases.

Mood Swings

Low levels of potassium, according to an article on the Nutritional Supplement Center website, can aggravate anxiety, irritability and mood swings. According to the article titled "Potassium Deficiency Contributes to Poor Health," several study cases concentrating on subjects with mild symptoms of depression showed improvement in moods when their intake of potassium-rich foods increased. Potassium is an important mineral for mental health and brain function due to the role it plays in maintaining the electrical conductivity of the brain and nerve transmissions. According to an article published on the Alternative Mental Health website, potassium is also central to the transportation of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that promotes feelings of well-being and happiness.

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