There has been a lot of talk and hope that omega 3 or fish oil supplements may actually help to reduce depression in certain individuals. But, is there really any kind of evidence that shows that those omega-3 fatty acids may help to treat some kinds of depression and even prevent it? Let’s take a look at some of the facts.
Scientists first became aware of the possibility that fish oil might play a significant role in treating and even preventing depression when they observed that those countries that ate more fish, particularly fatty fish tended to have fewer members of their population suffer from depression.
This observation was backed up many years later when researchers noted that women in the U.K. who ate fish regularly during their pregnancy tended to suffer less from postpartum depression than did women who rarely ate fish while pregnant.
Were these observations co-incidence or was there actually a link between those omega 3 and depression?
The Missing Link
Before researchers could determine if fish oil supplements and those omega3 fatty acids could help treat people with depression they first needed to know whether or not the amount of omega 3 in those people suffering from depression was less than that in the general population.
Since most of the population does not have the recommended amount of omega-3s in themselves, scientists have to first determine whether or not there was a significant difference in the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in a depressed person than in one who did not suffer from any type of depression.
They discovered that there was. So, the next step was to try and find out if adding omega-3 to the diets of those people who suffered from depression would help relieve any of the symptoms.
The first trials done using omega-3 fatty acids to help treat depression met with mixed results. This was understandable because each separate trial used differing amounts of omega-3s.
While some trials showed promise, others showed little or no improvement. More trials were done again using differing amounts of omega 3. This seemed to show that while omega-3s may help treat depression, and bi-polar disorder the correct dosage of these fatty acids still needed to be found.
After some time, the scientific community did conclude that fish oil supplements were effective as a part of an ongoing treatment for depression combined with medications and therapy. Now ongoing research is being done to try and discover what is the correct dosage for the most benefits.
Smaller studies have been done on women who suffered from menopausal depression and postpartum depression. The results of the study on women going through menopause was extremely promising showing that taking omega-3 fatty acids and fish oil supplements did indeed lessen some of the symptoms of depression in women going through menopause.
The results on women suffering from postpartum depression also showed promise though researchers caution that more studies need to be done.
Still other studies suggest that while fish oil supplements may help severe depression it is less effective on moderate to mild depression. However, since those omega-3 fatty acids have so many other health benefits why not take these supplements and see if it helps your mind as well as your body?