There is now plenty research data on the effects of fish oil on depression or better Omega-3s and depression. As a therapist I can't tell you how happy I am to report how beneficial fish oil for depression is.
There is established information to indicate that fish oil does indeed help depression... big time!
Good fats, including fish oil, ensure that your nerve cells in particularly have a healthy membrane - the sheath that covers the cells. A healthy membrane ensures an easy passage for nutrients/natural chemicals in and out of the cells' nucleus, as well as efficient transmission of electrical 'messages'.
Web MD concerning fish oil and depression reports:
“Cell membranes are made up, partly, of omega-3s. It is possible that increasing the omega-3 levels makes it possible for serotonin—a chemical that carries messages from one brain cell to another—to pass through cell membranes.”
To illustrate how closely fish oil, but in particularly DHA - one
of its components - is linked with depression, have a look at this study, which reports on the link
between low levels of omega-3 and suicide in US veterans.
|Please consult your
health-care provider/physician to discuss the
information I have provided before taking remedies or
supplements of any kind.
Dr Barry Sears, who has extensively researched Omega 3, describes in one of his books how close humankind came to extinction about 150.000 years ago and then began eating fish. Our modern brains and world domination as a species are the result.
He describes in “The Omega Zone” that Eskimos have an intake of about 7 grams of Omega-3s every day and know nearly no depression – despite the lack of sunlight. (Note: this really is not the dose you need to be taking!)
He also describes a link between our decline in Omega-3 intake in the last 100 years and the rise in mental problems.
Remember the link between fish oil and depression involving
serotonin? Well ... here is another one. Dr. Andrew
Stoll explains a bit more about why fish oil and depression are
linked in his groundbreaking book The Omega-3 Connection, .
“Using an imaging test known as SPECT, researchers have found that blood flow within a normal brain is uniform, whereas blood flow in depressed patients is scattered with 'holes' in which little or no blood flow is observed. Since high dose fish oil can improve blood flow, we have another clue to explain the molecular basis of depression.”
How much fish oil for fighting depression? I have seen various doses prescribed by different researchers: 1 - 3 Grams per day. Whilst fish oil is generally considered safe, you really want to have a look at my page on 'side effects' of omega-3.
Here is a study from the American Medical Association—Archives of General Psychiatry, 2002; 59:913-919. In this study, the results revealed the following:
“The vast majority completed the 12-week study with no serious adverse events. Most studies for antidepressant drugs have a higher drop out rate even if the study is half as long. The 1 gram per day group showed a significantly better outcome than the placebo group on all scales. In one group 5 (29%) of 17 patients receiving a placebo and 9 (53%) of 17 patients receiving one gram of ethyl-eicosapentaenoate (EPA) achieved a 50% score reduction on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale.”
The following is from a newsletter from Food for the brain:
" In short, you have nothing to lose and much to gain by going aA review of 14 separate studies found that levels of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA (found in oily fish and fish oil) are lower in people with depression. In this meta-analysis (pooling of data from a number of separate studies into the same topic), researchers found that the blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA (both of which are found in oily fish and fish oil) and total omega-3 fatty acids (found also in flax seeds, walnuts and leafy greens) were significantly lower in depressed patients compared to ‘controls’ (people without depression). At present there isn’t enough evidence to say conclusively that omega-3’s have an antidepressant effect (although this is the topic of ongoing research), it does show an association between low levels of omega-3 and low mood." Lin PY, Huang SY, Su KP. A meta-analytic review of polyunsaturated fatty acid compositions in patients with depression. Biol Psychiatry. 68(2):140-7, 2010.
You have nothing to lose by going ahead and giving fish oils - good products! - a try if you are depressed. You are very likely to feel a great deal better within 3-12 weeks of taking the supplements. In addition, very importantly, you will have avoided all the negative consequences of taking pharmaceutical antidepressants.
I have included links to other studies on fish oil, inflammation and depression further down this page, in case you need more to convince yourself that fish oil is a much better choice of treatment for depression than antidepressants. Though on the pharmaceutical companies!
Talking about the effects of fish oil on depression ... very unfortunately, most fish is contaminated with lead, mercury, PCBs and a multitude of other industrial wastes. There is every possibility therefore that fish oil products are also polluted - unless you can be confident of your chosen product.
When I suggest to my clients that they should look into supplementing with Omega-3, I also say that I would not want them to 'dose up' on any more pollutants! Eating polluted fish can be more unhealthy than the Omega-3s are helpful. You would really want to know that your fish is coming from clean sources. Mmm ... and how easy is that?
There are many cheap brands which use chemicals and processes to extract fish oil, distill and purify it that are less than optimal and/or safe and can therefore have a negative effect on your health.
You might be wondering about what the best fish oil supplement is and the difference between fish oil and cod liver oil. The latter I remember well from my childhood - big horrible spoonfuls - yuk! Cod liver oil, extracted from the fish liver, contains too high a level of vitamin A in the doses required to reap the benefits from fish oil for depression. So, it is important that you don't confuse the two.
I personally take 2 x 1000mg Omega 3 from Xtend-Life.
Xtend-Life is one of the few natural supplement companies I trust
and their fishoil products are the cleanest and most effective
available. I think they have the best fish oill supplements.
Xtend-Life prides itself to produce the cleanest and most effective Omega-3 fish oil. Their Fish Oil Buying Guide has all the details you need to ensure that you know your stuff. Unfortunately it makes very little reference to the benefits of fish oil on depression, as it focuses on quality rather than benefits. So, you may find the guide slightly too technical. Nevertheless, I would still advice you to have a look at it if only to prevent you taking the wrong kind of fish oil to help you beat your depression.
How long after you start taking fish oil for depression will you begin to feel its effects? The answer really depends on your individual make-up, just like it would with any type of medical intervention or medication. Every person is different - you are as unique as the stars!
However, you may see an improvement in as little as three weeks. One gram seems to do the job for most people within about 12 weeks. Dr. Barry Sears treats his patients with high doses for heavy brain deterioration (Alzheimer, Treatment of Dementia etc.), with great success. But: he is a doctor and uses a blood test to measure the needed amount of Omega-3s. See the book above.
I want to bring something to your attention that not many people, even doctors and mental health professionals, know. Your diet can be the cause of your depression, anger, stress and/or anxiety! Fluctuations in blood sugar levels cause havoc in your body and mind. A lack of 'mental health vitamins', such as for example Vit B6 and Vit B12, as well as omega 3 can lead to all kinds of mental problems.
Imagine how a road network would function if poor quality materials were used or roads just not covered at all. What would a car journey be like? In a very similar way the flow of information in your body, including of course your brain, is undermined if it has to rely on poor quality raw material - nutrients.
I always ask about my clients' diet as I am so aware that he/she can make a much better and faster recovery if we address the diet. We are not even talking about how issues with weight add to feelings of misery!
If weight is a problem for you, have a look at which of these expert hypnosis downloads is right for you.
Also, now you are fully intended to overcome your depression by natural means, you may also want to have a look at the special depression solutions by HypnosisDownloads. Click here to find out more...
Fine-tune your relationship and lift your spirits!
You may also be interested in:
| Omega 3 Benefits
Natural sleep remedies
How to deal with depression
Biggest causes of stress
Omega-3 side effects
Natural depression treatments
Images courtesy of: 1 and 2 Rob Owen-Wahl; 2 Suzanna Diebes; 3 Søren Faurby