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Chromium is a well tolerated CAM treatment used for its antidepressant properties.

Although the studies are mixed, two of the three sources that mention chromium affirm its antidepressant activity in atypical depression, a condition characterized by increased appetite, hyperphagia (excessive hunger and abnormally large intake of solids by mouth), and carbohydrate craving, among other clinical features. The third source judges chromium treatment to be promising. No source dissents. Leading researchers (Lake and Spiegel) posit a therapeutic effect in other kinds of depression as well, but the studies are not yet adequate to fully credit this suggestion.

The risk is minimal.

Drug Interactions

  • Chromium use should be coordinated with the prescribing physician of any immunosuppressive drug.
  • Since chromium may lower insulin resistance, people taking oral drugs for diabetes or using insulin should closely monitor their insulin levels while using chromium.
  • People taking beta-blockers may experience higher HDL cholesterol levels and increases in blood pressure while using chromium.

Side Effects

According to the Natural Standard, chromium "appears to be well tolerated with rare or uncommon adverse effects."

  • The most commonly reported side effects with chromium supplementation include initial insomnia, increased and vivid dreams, tremor, mild psychomotor activation, stomach discomfort, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Given the risk of "cycling," caution should be used in people who have (or may develop) bipolar disorder.
  • Chromium is safe in children, pregnancy and lactation.

For detailed information on Chromium and other treatments, download the full review.