Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 17.3 million American adults have had at least one major depressive episode. Experts claim that certain types of omega-3 fatty acids— particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) — have the best potential to help people with mood disorders. The brain needs omega-3 fatty acids to function properly. Those who do not have enough EPA and DHA in their diets could be at higher risk of depression. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that supplementation of EPA can help reduce symptoms of depression among patients who do not respond to contemporary antidepressant treatments. (Related: Treat depression with omega-3 fatty acids.)
"Despite significant progress in neuroscience over the past two decades, depression is difficult to treat," said lead author Francois Lesperance. "Many of these treatments have not been adequately evaluated. That is why it was important to assess the efficacy of Omega-3, one of the most popular alternative approaches."
In this randomized, double-blind study, the researchers recruited 432 participants with major unipolar disorder to undergo an experiment. Over the course of eight weeks, half of the participants involved took three capsules of OM3 Emotional Balance, a fish oil supplement with high doses of EPA, each day. The researchers gave another group three identical placebo capsules filled with sunflower oil to act as the control.
From the results, the researchers found that EPA supplementation helped reduce depressive symptoms in patients experiencing major depressive episodes. However, there was a clearer benefit for supplementation among patients without comorbid anxiety disorders.
In a different study, published in the journal CNS Neuroscience and Therapeutics, researchers from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev analyzed three studies that used EPA as a treatment for three different types of depression: major depression in children, bipolar depression and major depression in adults. They observed that most of the participants that took EPA across all types exhibited significant improvement and benefited from the EPA compared to those who took a placebo.
As a whole, most of the research done looks positive for the use of omega-3s and fish oil supplements to treat and manage depression.
Other than fish oil supplements, the best way to get more omega-3s is by adding certain food to your diet. Below you can find a few foods that are very high in omega-3.
All in all, adding more omega-3 fatty acids to your diet can help give your mood a quick boost and help you relieve symptoms of depression. Learn more about fish oil supplements and their benefits at SupplementsReport.com.