Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, present primarily in bones and teeth. It’s an essential dietary element required for good bone health, efficient nerve and muscle function and overall cardiovascular health. Our bones serve as a storage site for calcium, providing the mineral to the bloodstream for use by the heart and other organs.

Although calcium is known mostly for its role in building and maintaining strong bones and teeth, it’s also required for proper brain function. It plays a major role in maintaining normal blood pressure, regulating blood clotting and preventing cancers of the digestive tract. It is also associated with relieving mood swings and food cravings.

Too much calcium in the blood, a condition called “hypercalcemia,” can affect the brain, causing anxiety and depression. Hypercalcemia can also cause high blood pressure and abnormal heart rhythms.

Hypercalcemia is usually a result of overactive parathyroid glands. These four tiny glands are situated in the neck, near the thyroid gland. This condition, called “hyperparathyroidism” is when one or more of the parathyroid glands secrete too much parathyroid hormone. This causes the levels of calcium in the blood to rise triggering hypercalcemia.

Other causes of hypercalcemia include cancer, certain other medical disorders, some medications, and taking too much of calcium and vitamin D supplements. Signs and symptoms of hypercalcemia range from nonexistent to severe and treatment depends on the cause. Even mild cases of hypercalcemia have been associated with symptoms of depression, but mostly in patients with primary hyperparathyroidism. 

Calcium and Bipolar Disorder

Research has suggested that some nutritional supplements cause adverse reactions in people with bipolar disorder (BD). In the course of doing research, scientists have noted a variety of adverse reactions with bipolar patients and certain nutritional supplements.

Calcium signaling has long been implicated in BD, following reports of altered levels of calcium in cerebrospinal fluid in patients with mania. Additionally, long-term lithium treatment is associated with altered calcium metabolism, including hyperparathyroidism.

In a study investigating BD, calcium supplementation increased mania symptoms slightly in six manic-depressive patients, according. Therefore, if calcium supplementation is required for prevention of osteoporosis in people with BD, it should be monitored closely.

Other research has found people taking one of two classes of drugs, known beta blockers or calcium channel antagonists, had twice the risk of being admitted into the hospital with a mood disorder, such as severe depression. However, people taking a class of drugs known as angiotensin blockers (ACE inhibitors) had a lower risk of developing severe mood disorders, even compared with healthy control groups with no history of hypertension or depression.

It’s important that health professionals are aware of the possible impact that medication can have on someone’s mental health. If you are on any medication and concerned about your mood, have a chat with your GP.

Randi Fredricks, Ph.D.


Rubio-Guerra AF, Rodriguez-Lopez L, Vargas-Ayala G, Huerta-Ramirez S, Serna DC, Lozano-Nuevo JJ. (2013). Depression increases the risk for uncontrolled hypertension. Exp Clin Cardiol. 18(1):10-12.

Banki CM, Vojnik M, Papp Z, Balla KZ, Arato M. (1995). Cerebrospinal fluid magnesium and calcium related to amine metabolites, diagnosis, and suicide attempts. Biol Psychiatry, 20(2), 163–171.

Carman JS, Wyatt RJ. (1979). Calcium: Bivalent cation in the bivalent psychoses. Biol Psychiatry, 14, 295–336.

Cipriani A, et al. (2016). A systematic review of calcium channel antagonists in bipolar disorder and some considerations for their future development. Mol Psychiatry, 21(10), 1324–1332.

D’Onofrio S, Mahaffey S, Garcia-Rill E. (2017). Role of calcium channels in bipolar disorder. Curr Psychopharmacol, 6(2), 122–135.