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While such case reports are intriguing, they must be viewed with some skepticism. Large-scale, controlled studies must be conducted before anyone with chronic depression should rush out and demand to be started on chromium -- much less take this element without a doctor's supervision. Furthermore, there has been at least one reported case of a patient becoming manic (extremely agitated and excited) after taking an over-the-counter compound called ma-huang -- which contains chromium, caffeine, and a powerful stimulant called ephedrine. Ma-huang is often sold as a Chinese herb, and is a good example of why so-called natural products must be approached very cautiously. Nevertheless, the chromium story is of great interest and may someday give us a new way of approaching the treatment of depression. In the meantime, check with your doctor if you feel severely or persistently depressed.

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