There is now plenty of research data about the effects of fish oil on depression, or better - Omega-3s and depression. But is it trustworthy? As a therapist I 'm really happy that I can recommend fish oil for treating depression - it's so much safer than taking antidepressants.
Good fats, including fish oil, ensure that your nerve cells in particular have a healthy membrane (the sheath that covers the cells). A healthy membrane ensures an easy passage for nutrients and natural chemicals in and out of the cells' nucleus, as well as efficient transmission of electrical 'messages'.
Web MD reports:
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However, just because there is a deficiency, it doesn't mean that we necessarily need to supplement/overdose by buying stuff from the chemist. And in particular - we're unlikely to need to do so, if we can get the right amount from our food.
Oh... and then there's also the issue of the link between serotonin and depression, but that's for another page.
Let's see though what those benefits were thought to be...
To illustrate how closely fish oil, but in particular DHA - one of its components - is said to link with depression, have a look at this study. It reports on the link between low levels of omega-3 and suicide in US veterans.
Dr Barry Sears, who is said to have extensively researched Omega 3, describes in one of his books how close humankind came to extinction about 150,000 years ago. But then, humans began eating fish. Our modern brains and world domination as a species are supposed to be the result!
He describes in "The Omega Zone" that Eskimos have an intake of about 7g of Omega-3s every day and know nearly no depression - despite the lack of sunlight.
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's another one...
Dr. Andrew Stoll explains a bit more about why fish oil and depression are linked in his book "The Omega-3 Connection". He wrote:
How much fish oil is needed for fighting depression? I've seen various doses prescribed by different researchers, ranging from 1 - 3g per day, but I do recommend that you have a look at my page on the Side Effects of Omega-3 if you are considering taking fish oil for depression or indeed for anything at all.
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 following is from a newsletter from food for the brain:
In short, I really want you to research the subject of fish oil and depression to ensure you do the best for your health. I so want to help you avoid taking pharmaceutical antidepressants with all their negative consequences, but I am also worried that a deficiency in omega 3 is a red herring.
I have several articles with lots of information on omega 3/fish oil and on the treatment of depression for you to explore.
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 3 weeks. 1g 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 (Alzheimers, dementia etc.) - he reports: with great success.
But: he is a doctor and uses a blood test to measure the needed amount of Omega-3s. Also, I want you to consider at what cost to your general health would you take fish oil for depression.
I really hope this article is of help to you. :-)
I frequently update my articles based on feedback, therefore I really value your vote.
Thank you so much in anticipation. :-)
Archives of General Psychiatry - Omega 3 fatty acids in bipolar disorder
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