The Psychological Effects of Low Potassium

Potassium plays an important role in maintaining normal bodily functions, but apart from that severe deficiency of potassium can cause psychological problems ranging from depression to delirium.

Tanushree Singh
Written by: Tanushree SinghUpdated at: May 16, 2018 12:47 IST
The Psychological Effects of Low Potassium

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Severe deficiency or low levels of potassium in human body is called hypokalemia. Hypokalemia is a potentially life threatening imbalance and can cause serious symptoms such as palpitations and psychological effects. 

The psychological effects of low potassium 

Usually, the symptoms of potassium deficiency are mild and vague. Potassium is involved in a variety of bodily functions such as the normal functioning of heart muscles, smooth muscle contraction, conducting electric signals in the body etc. Due to its multiple uses, the symptoms may be confusing and show up as muscular cramps, gastrointestinal problems, issues with cardiac function or psychological problems.

Since potassium is one of the most important minerals which conduct electrical signals through nerves, any deficiency might result in issues such as confusion, mental fatigue, and psychosis. Some psychological effects of low potassium are :


Depression is a serious condition which affects normal life of a person. Still many of us tend to dismiss it as a weakness; depression can have many factors behind it. Low levels of potassium in the body can cause depression and anxiety. If you are suffering from depression and have other symptoms of hypokalemia, it is best to consult your doctor about it, as it might just be a side effect of low potassium levels in your body. 

Mood swings

Low potassium levels can also cause mood swings. It can trigger anxiety and can cause irritability in the patients. Several studies have shown that people who suffer from severe mood swings and anxiety issues are benefitted with a high potassium diet.

Mental fatigue

Mental fatigue is one of the most frustrating effects of low potassium levels. Mental fatigue is a cause of the decrease in cognitive performance of a person. Potassium is necessary for cognitive functions and learning processes, its deficiency can cause mental fatigue. Stress and frustration typically accompany this condition as mental fatigue can affect day to day life of a person. 


Psychosis is a very serious condition in which a person loses touch with reality. People suffering from psychosis might be delusional and may hallucinate and see or experience things which are not real. People, who have severe hypokalemia, i.e. lower than 3.5 millimoles may suffer from psychosis. 

Managing low potassium levels

Some of the low potassium effects can be minimized by taking proper diet, rich in potassium and drinking electrolyte solutions.Some potassium rich foods are avocados, spinach, banana, coconut water etc. If the symptoms are too pronounced and serious, an electrolyte solution containing potassium and other minerals might be administered by your physician.

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