Daily supplements of an omega-3 fatty acid – found in fish and
fish oil – may help alleviate the symptoms of depression in
people who do not respond to antidepressant medications,
new research findings suggest.
Physicians at the Swallownest Court Hospital in Sheffield,
England found that depressed patients who received a daily dose
of at least 1 gram of an omega-3 fatty acid for 12 weeks
experienced a decrease in their symptoms, such as sadness,
anxiety, low libido, sleeping problems, and suicidal tendencies.
In fact, 69% of the patients treated with the 1-gram daily
dose achieved a 50% reduction in their symptoms of
All of the patients had tried other medications before enrolling
in the current study, including selective serotonin reuptake
inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac and medications from an older
family of drugs called tricyclic antidepressants. Both types of
drug are standard treatments for 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 (manic depression).
In addition, researchers have found that people who are
depressed, as well as those diagnosed with cardiovascular
diseases and other conditions associated with depression, have
relatively low levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood.
The Connecticut Center for Health dispensary carries a brand of
fish oil that is completely free of contaminants (mercury,
pesticides, etc.), as confirmed by independent laboratory
analysis. Be very selective in the fish oil you choose, because
many products contain unhealthy contaminants.
If you or a loved one have depression, our physicians can help
you with the right amount of fish oil and B vitamins you need in
order to deal more effectively with this common disorder. These
nutrients also improve your overall health and reduce your risk
of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other degenerative
Source: Archives of General Psychiatry 2002;59:913-919.