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Fish Oil May Relieve Stubborn Depression

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 depression.

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 disorders.

Source: Archives of General Psychiatry 2002;59:913-919.