Omega-3 fatty acids are mostly found in fish oil and other marine algae. Since depression is not common in countries where people consume large amounts of fish, there have been studies to determine whether omega-3 can improve or prevent depression.
For more than ten years, multiple studies have been done on omega-3 to understand its effects on depression and other mental health conditions. Though the research was only done recently, and there’s more to be done before final results are presented, it seems a bit promising. Several studies have revealed that omega-3 has the capability of treating certain forms of depression.
Continue reading to understand more about omega-3 benefits and side effects.
Can Omega-3 Improve Depression?
It has been discovered that omega-3 can travel through the brain cell membrane and link with mood-related molecules. Omega-3 also has an anti-inflammatory ability that can ease depression. Since our brain needs fatty acids like those in omega-3 to function properly, it’s believed that individuals with depression are likely not to have adequate EPA and DHA. Most researchers are using this assumption to study the possible benefits of using omega-3 to improve depression.
In 2009, researchers evaluated data from three studies that involved EPA to improve symptoms of depression related to recurrent major depression in adults, bipolar depression, and major depression in children. Individuals who used the EPA to improve their kind of depression reported significant benefits and improvements compared to those using the placebo.
Along with EPA, DHA is believed to have a positive impact on treating some types of depression. Since people with postpartum depression, minor depression, and ideation have low levels of DHA and DHA, consuming large amounts of fish can be beneficial.
According to research that has been done to determine whether omega-3 can improve depression, the results seem promising. However, there need to be more accurate results on whether fish oil and omega-3 are reliable in treating depression.
The Right Dosage of Omega-3
Omega-3 can be added to your provisions in different ways, such as:
- Consuming more fish, especially trout, tuna, salmon, and shellfish
- Flaxseed oil
- Canola oil
- Fish oil supplements
- Algae oil
According to U.S, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), you should take 2-3 servings of fish per week, including different types of fish. For adults, 4 ounces are enough, while for children, it should be 2 ounces.
Medicinal dosage for various health problems depends on the condition and how severe it is. Before taking omega-3, it’s advisable to seek a doctor’s advice to know how much and often you should take omega-3.
Can Fish Oil Be Used As an Antidepressant?
Based on current research, it’s not yet clear whether fish oil can be considered an antidepressant. Antidepressant drugs interact with chemicals in the brain linked with moods such as norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine.
Specifically, Fluoxetine is a common serotonin reuptake catalyst medication for treating depression. Though it’s not yet known how antidepressants function, these drugs can increase serotonin, enhancing communication between brain cells.
Serotonin has many functions in the body, but it’s specifically believed to enhance mood, sleep, and appetite. Though studies suggest that omega-3 can treat depression, it is yet to be proved how it acts on the neurotransmitters in the brain. Therefore, it’s not yet possible to understand whether fish oil functions the same as antidepressants.
Do Doctors Recommend Fish Oil for Depression?
Not really. Reason being that there is not enough evidence that fish oil can indeed be used instead of antidepressants. However, depending on your depression and other health conditions, your doctor may recommend that you eat fish regularly.
Doctors may also recommend fish oil supplements to individuals to boost their immunity and for other health benefits. However, not everyone is recommended to use fish oil supplements. Consuming fish is mostly recommended as a part of healthy eating.
Most recently, U.S. adults are urged to eat 8 ounces of fish each week. If your doctor advises you to use fish oil supplements, they should guide you on the preferred dosage.
Looking to learn more on fish oil and other supplements? Check out our Medicines A-Z.
What Are the Best Omega -3s or Fish Oil for Depression?
For a better choice of omega-3 for depression, you and your doctor should consider the amount of EPA and DHA available. Supplements containing a 2-1 or a higher ratio of EPA to DHA and 1-2 total grams of EPA are more effective.
However, it’s not easy to determine the actual content of DHA and EPA in fish oil supplements. Some brands present this information on their websites or labels; however, some do not. It’s advisable to research such supplements since the Food and Drug Administration does not test them before they are marketed.
That being the case, if you are looking forward to using fish oil for depression, talk to your doctor to find out how much and which type of omega-3 is best for you.
Omega-3, fish oil, and fish, in general, are beneficial for general health. Fish contains fats that our bodies need to function as they should. Studies have been conducted to determine whether omega-3 and fish oil can improve mood and mental health in general. Though the results are promising, there is a need for more proof to determine whether or not fish oil is beneficial to our mental health.
If you are opting for a natural remedy for depression, such as fish oil, seek your doctor’s advice on whether you should choose fish oil over antidepressants. Finally, consider eating fish regularly to enhance your general health.