Depressed? Consider Fish Oil
New research has found that people with depression who received a daily dose of 1 gram of an omega-3 fatty acid for 12 weeks experienced a decrease in their symptoms, such as sadness, anxiety and sleeping problems.
The only side effect of the treatment appeared to be mild gastrointestinal problems.
All the patients had already tried medications before enrolling in the study, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Zoloft or Prozac, or medications from an older family of drugs called tricyclic antidepressants. All the aforementioned drugs are considered standard treatments of depression.
Previous researchers have suggested that the balance of omega-3 fatty acids in the brain may become skewed in people with depression, and earlier studies have shown that fish oil supplements can help alleviate the symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, or manic depression.
But depression isn't the only disease that may be affected by a person's levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Researchers have found that those who have been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease and other conditions associated with depression, have low levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood.
The study included 70 depressed patients who took a daily dose of one to 4 grams of EPA or an inactive drug. The treatment lasted 12 weeks.
The doses were either 1 gram, 2 grams or 4 grams of EPA. Those who took 1 gram experienced improvements akin to those given the inactive drug, in all the measurable aspects of depression, including sadness, anxiety, low sexual drive and suicidal tendencies.
There was a significant improvement of those patients who took 1 gram of EPA daily: 69 percent of the patients achieved a 50 percent reduction in their symptoms, in contrast to those who took the inactive drug, where 25 percent of the patients saw improvement.
The higher-dosage groups saw similar improvements, but no higher improvement than those who took the 1 gram daily dose. The study's authors surmise that this result may have had to do with the fact that a small amount of people took the 2 or 4 grams per day. They advised further trials to determine the efficacy of higher doses of EPA in treatment of depression.
Archives of General Psychiatry October 2002; 59: 913-919http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12365878?dopt=Abstract