Omega-3 fatty acids, which are abundant in some fish oils, have been linked to various health advantages in many studies.
Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 17 Dec 2021.
Treating Depression Using Fish Oil Supplements
Dave has been thinking a lot about fish lately. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are abundant in some fish oils, have been linked to various health advantages in many studies. But it’s not the fact that omega-3s may lower his risk of heart attack or alleviate the agony of arthritis that interests Dave. He’s trying to keep his mind lubricated.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown in a few modest studies to assist with the mood fluctuations associated with bipolar disorder. Because there are few effective treatments for the disease, the news is now popular among manic-depressive support groups, such as the one Dave attends in Berkeley, California.
A 1998 study in the Journal of Affective Disorders was the first to get the public’s notice. According to researchers, patients with depression have substantially reduced omega-3s in their red blood cell membranes.
Then, in May 1999, Andrew Stoll, MD, and colleagues published a study of fish oil in 30 manic-depressive patients in Archives of General Psychiatry. Sixty-four percent of individuals who took 10 grammes of fish oil per day for four months said their symptoms had improved significantly. Those who received the placebo, on the other hand, benefitted just 19% of the time.
These studies aren’t the only ones that show how fish oil may help with mood issues. Stoll adds, “There are a lot of reasons to think it works." “We find the reduced incidence of depression in nations where the average fish intake is high."
On the biological level, experts point out that omega-3s make up a portion of cell membranes. It’s possible that boosting omega-3 levels helps serotonin — a substance that sends signals from one brain cell to the next — move through cell membranes more easily. “Research on the precise processes involved is still needed," Stoll says, “but we do know that omega-3 does alter the membranes and affects their functioning." Omega-3 supplementation also “had direct impacts on serotonin levels."
Diet and Depression
Omega-3s, according to Joseph Hibbeln, MD, a psychiatrist at the National Institute of Health, may explain why depression is on the rise in the United States.
Americans have been eating less red meat and eggs, two excellent sources of omega-3s, as part of a health-conscious effort to reduce saturated fats and cholesterol in our diets. In addition, we’ve been moving to polyunsaturated fats like corn, soybean, and sunflower oils, which are poor in omega-3s. Not only you can improve your omega-3s in your body, but it can help in treating depression using fish oil supplements.
Supplement or Go Fish
However, the best way to remedy the issue is still up for debate. Some chronic illnesses may be exacerbated by omega-3s. (If you have a medical problem, see your doctor before beginning to use supplements.) The Food and Drug Administration is presently debating the amount of omega-3s to suggest; at the moment, there is no guideline, although three grammes per day is considered “safe."
In his research, Stoll gave patients 10 grammes of fish oil each day, although he recommends beginning with lower dosages. Packaged fish oil pills, he thinks, are the simplest — and probably safest — method to boost omega-3 levels.
He adds, “Unfortunately, in our nation, overeating fresh fish may be hazardous due to high mercury and pesticide levels." “Farm-raised fish may be safer, but the amount of omega-3s in the fish may not be sufficient depending on what they are given."
However, contamination levels in fish oil supplements have been a source of worry. Regulators do not presently test supplement purity.
People should not consume the amount of cod liver oil required to obtain three grammes of omega-3s per day, according to Hibbeln, since so much cod liver oil would contain hazardous amounts of vitamin A.
Flaxseed oil, on the other hand, is an excellent source of omega-3s. It may be used in salad dressings or as a supplement. Flaxseed oil should not be heated, unlike fish oils, which contain a different mix of omega-3s, since heat may destroy the omega-3s.
More information will be provided as soon as possible. Stoll is being supported by the National Institute of Mental Health’s Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in new major research, one of three now underway. By the end of next year, all three should be finished.
Dave, on the other hand, is unlikely to wait for the findings. “I guess I’ll have to go out and buy some fish oil," he adds.
However, you can try treating depression using fish oil supplements with moderated prescriptions. Everything takes time.