Depression, Anxiety and Copper Toxicity

By Samantha Gilbert, FNC, CHNP, CNC     Last updated on October 22nd, 2021

Depression, Anxiety and Copper Toxicity

Depression. Anxiety. Copper Toxicity. Conditions we don’t like to talk about. Conditions that are attached to a lot of guilt and shame.

I get it. I’ve been there.

From the time I was born, and for over 25 years, I battled with both of these conditions. I waxed. I waned. Some days were tolerable and I would feel a glimpse of hope. The rest of the time I wanted to jump off a bridge. Uncomfortable in my own skin. Nothing worked. Nothing mattered.

Then one day, an answer to my prayer. A missing link uncovered.

Biochemical testing revealed a condition known as copper toxicity. Yes, copper toxicity. A condition your doctor most likely knows nothing about. A pesky metal that acts as a stimulant and is a powerful conductor of energy.

It lowers dopamine and shoots adrenaline high into the sky.

No wonder I was so hyper, panicky and couldn’t tolerate coffee or chocolate – high in copper, they increased my copper levels and stimulated me to the point of no return. No wonder I couldn’t think clearly and was tired all the time – brain fog, chronic fatigue, and fibromyalgia are common symptoms of copper toxicity. No wonder I had terrible depression and menstrual irregularities – copper toxicity is a common underlying cause of uterine contractions, heavy bleeding, migraine headaches, paranoia, insomnia, anger and rage, endometriosis, fibroid tumors, PMS and PMDD.

And that’s just the short list.

My doctor at the time told me I needed to be on an oral contraceptive to remedy my issues.

Little did she know they actually make the problem worse because estrogen increases copper retention in the body, which I, unfortunately, found out the hard way.

So let’s break down the science of copper toxicity, which I explain in great detail in my Low Copper Cookbook.

What is Copper Toxicity?

Copper toxicity, often hereditary, is an inability to effectively eliminate excess copper. It is not the same as Wilson’s Disease, a life-threatening and rare genetic disorder where copper accumulates in vital organs and glands.

Copper has the ability to profoundly affect every system in the body especially the reproductive, nervous, and glandular systems, and it has a devastating effect on mental health.

As I already shared, oral contraceptives and the copper IUD make this condition worse. See my post here for more information.

Copper and Cancer

As I mentioned previously, estrogen increases copper retention in the body. We live in an estrogen dominant world and it is well documented that estrogen dominance plays a direct role in the development of many cancers including those of the breast, ovaries, and cervix.

Additionally, impaired methylation synthesis is also a major factor in today’s soaring cancer rates. You can view the research here.

With copper high, zinc becomes imbalanced. Zinc is an essential nutrient in the healthy functioning of all our bodily processes. It enhances resistance to stress, maintains intellectual function, memory, and mood levels, and is an important component in the creation of all hormones. Zinc is also a major player in the creation of our bodies master antioxidants, metallothionein and glutathione, both of which are needed for every body system to function optimally and protect us from disease.

Without adequate zinc, we can become prone to pathogenic infections as well as diseases caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells.

Copper Toxicity, Pregnancy, and Children

Copper overload has a strong heritable component, which means that it is often passed down from generation to generation, something we call Transgenerational Epigenetic Inheritance (TEI). If all the females in your family share similar symptoms as mine do, copper toxicity may be the underlying cause.

Postpartum depression (PPD) and psychosis are directly connected to elevated levels of copper, especially with multiple births because copper levels increase with each pregnancy (copper is needed to make blood vessels) and do not go back to normal post-birth. When I hear about women drowning their children, committing suicide, or shooting their husbands, I wonder if monitoring their copper levels would have helped prevent such sad stories.

If your child is anxious, hyper, impulsive, agitated, and has trouble concentrating, remember, copper acts as a stimulant. This produces an adrenaline surge, which is hard for a little, growing body to control.

Your child isn’t bad, it just means there is a biochemical difficulty that is correctable.

Additionally, copper is a major player in ADHD/ADD, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, bipolar disorders, fibromyalgia, and paranoid schizophrenia.

Final Thoughts

Copper toxicity is a very treatable condition, one I’ve been blessed to overcome after a lifetime of pain and struggle.

I break all the research down for you along with 25 recipes in my Low Copper Cookbook.

Do you battle with depression and/or anxiety like I once did? If so, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below. If you know of someone that is struggling with depression and/or anxiety, please share this post. It is through sharing that we create community, eliminate guilt and shame, and bring about healing.


Walsh, William J. (2012). Nutrient Power: Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain. New York, NY: Skyhorse.
Walsh, William J. Elevated Blood Copper/Zinc Ratios in Assaultive Young Males. Psychology and Behavior, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 327-329, 1997.
Walsh, William J., Crayton, John W. Elevated serum copper levels in women with a history of postpartum depression. Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology, Volume 21, Issue 1, March 14, 2007, Pages 17-21.
Mzhel’skaya TI. Biological functions of ceruloplasmin and their deficiency caused by mutation in genes regulating copper and iron metabolism. Bull Exp Biol Med. 2000; 130(8):719-27.
Chauhan, Abha, Chauhan, Ved, Brown, Ted W., Cohen, Ira. Oxidative stress in autism: Increased lipid peroxidation and reduced serum levels of ceruloplasmin and transferrin – the antioxidant proteins. Life Sciences, Volume 75, Issue 21, 8 October 2004, Pages 2539–2549.
Faber S, Zinn GM, kern JC, kingston HM. The plasma zinc/serum copper ratio as a biomarker in children with autism spectrum disorders. Biomarkers. 2009; 14(3):171-80.
Liang J, Shang Y. Estrogen and Cancer. Annual Review of Physiology. 2013; 75:225-40.
Lontie, Rene. (1984). Copper Proteins and Copper Enzymes. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. S.D.G.
Baylin, Stephen B. DNA methylation and gene silencing in cancer. Nature clinical practice Oncology 2 (2005): S4-S11.


7 thoughts on “Depression, Anxiety and Copper Toxicity”

  1. Dear all, thank you for posting this article andbthe comments which helped me to understand the cause of my problems which is copper deficiency and zinc overload.

    I just want to inform everybody who is suppl. zinc or is low in iron to control for copper levels which can be easily done by intracellular analysis in some labs. Lack of copper means lack of Iron, fatigue, depression etc.

  2. Pingback: PTSD and Long-Term Health – Empaths, Sociopaths, and Post-Traumatic Growth

  3. Dear All, First of all, thank you for all of you for posting these comments, they saved my life. I hope that many women read also my lines, my aim is to WARN you from copper IUD!!!! Here is my story. After having two children, we have decided to use a birth control method, which is without hormones. My gynaecologist told me there is a possibility to use copper IUD. She only said that the copper IUD can cause stronger bleeding. That was the only side-effect I heard. I had to undersign it that I am aware of this and that was all, no other information about possible side-effects. Yes: the bleeding was stronger, my period cycle have become much shorter and my hair has become thinner, let me say 1/3 volume as before. But this all was not the worst: at the end of 2018 I became DEPRESSION, with all symptoms: Depressed mood, mood swings, anger, anxiety, insomnia, rage, racing thoughts, palpitations and suicidal thoughts. I got pills for depression and sleep, they helped but I STILL HAD depressed days. I started to make notices about when exactly I had the worst days and these days were always the days during the bleeding. Not before, so not the PMS because of the hormones, but during the whole bleeding. This recognition was the first point I decided to make investigation on the net and found finally reports of women of all over the world who claimed about the same: having IUD and depression. After that it was clear for me: I have all that problems from the IUD. I let it take out and I am now completely changed: no mood swings, no depression at all. I HOPE, that somebody reads this and I can help at least some of us to think it over letting this device out. I wish I had it done much before, before all the struggles I went through, which almost destroyed my life. Greetings, I wish you all the best, S. from Germany

  4. I read little English, but I tried to understand the article, it’s possible to get in Spanish?
    Thanks.. I’m very interesting in this information.

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