Omega 3 for protection against depression

Miserable, feeling down, not interested in anything... is depression around the corner? You should ask for help straight away, turning to your friends and health professionals. You can tackle depression from lots of different angles. Exercise, talking and medication can all help, but so can adapting your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids really do play a role in tackling feelings of depression. Currently, the strongest evidence is for the role of the Omega-3 fatty acid EPA.

Opt for more EPA than DHA in your nutritional supplement

Fish oil contains two Omega- 3 fatty acids: EPA and DHA. In trials in human subjects, only supplements with more EPA than DHA led to an improvement in the symptoms of depression. Supplements containing more DHA than EPA were of no value in this respect. EPA-rich supplements were efficient in patients diagnosed with depression, but also in people with depressive feelings without actual depression.


The standard dose ranges from 1-2 g daily, calculated on the EPA content, while the treatment should ideally be maintained for longer than 12 weeks. Patients can combine their Omega-3 supplement with their anti-depressants, for studies have shown that the combination works better to reduce depressive symptoms than medication alone. Not only are miserable feelings tackled, but an EPA-rich supplement also has a beneficial impact on sleep, the emotions and feelings of anxiety.

'EPA-rich supplements were efficient in patients diagnosed with depression, but also in people with depressive feelings without actual depression.'


How do Omega-3 fatty acids work?

The consumption of oily fish or fish oil supplements maintains the white matter in the central nervous system, the part that is responsible for transmitting signals. DHA makes the nerve paths smoother, by embedding itself into the nerve cell sheath to the contact point between two nerves. This makes communication between the nerves smoother, including transmission via serotonin. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that affects mood.


And yet EPA works best? That’s because depression goes together with a state of long-term mild inflammatory responses. The stronger these inflammatory responses, the more severe the symptoms of depression. The good news is that EPA is an effective anti-inflammatory. Which accounts for much of EPA’s beneficial impact on depression.

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Conclusion

For depression and anxiety, you should take an Omega-3 supplement containing more EPA than DHA. This simple diet supplement can be combined with anti-depressants. It’s a proven strategy for improving mood. Investigate the treatment that suits you best step by step with your health professional. Perhaps an Omega-3 supplement will be enough, maybe a combination with movement therapy, mindfulness or medication are called for.





Sources

- Bozzatello P, Rocca P, Mantelli E, Bellino S. Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids: What is Their Role in Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders? Int J Mol Sci 2019; 20(21).
- Deacon G, Kettle C, Hayes D, Dennis C, Tucci J. Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and the treatment of depression. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 2017; 57(1):212-223.
- Firth J, Teasdale SB, Allott K, Siskind D, Marx W, Cotter J, Veronese N, Schuch F, Smith L, Solmi M, Carvalho AF, Vancampfort D, Berk M, Stubbs B, Sarris J. The efficacy and safety of nutrient supplements in the treatment of mental disorders: a meta-review of meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials. World Psychiatry 2019; 18(3):308-324.
- Guu TW, Mischoulon D, Sarris J, Hibbeln J, McNamara RK, Hamazaki K, Freeman MP, Maes M, Matsuoka YJ, Belmaker RH, Jacka F, Pariante C, Berk M, Marx W, Su KP. International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research Practice Guidelines for Omega-3 Fatty Acids in the Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder. Psychother Psychosom 2019; 88(5):263-273.
- Liao Y, Xie B, Zhang H, He Q, Guo L, Subramaniapillai M, Fan B, Lu C, Mclntyer RS. Efficacy of omega-3 PUFAs in depression: A meta-analysis. Transl Psychiatry 2019; 9(1):190.