Omega 3 Supplements Can Help Those with Major Depressive Disorder

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While research has suggested for some time that taking Omega-3 supplements may help depression, prior studies had been small. Recently, researchers at the University of Montreal in Quebec, Canada, conducted the largest study to date, to look further at the effects of Omega-3 supplements on depression.

Their results? Individuals with unipolar depression who did not have anxiety, experienced an improvement in their mood after taking the Omega-3 supplements. In fact, the results were comparable to the effectiveness of treatment with antidepressant medication.

The researchers used a randomized, double blind study that included 432 subjects, both male and female. All of the subjects had major depressive disorder. Some of the participants also had an anxiety disorder, and several had treatment-resistant depression. Half of the participants were given a supplement that contained 1050 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 150 mg of DHA daily for 8 weeks. The other half were given a placebo containing sunflower oil, that tasted like fish oil, for 8 weeks.

Such a large study shows that Omega-3 supplements can help improve depressive symptoms for those without anxiety. This is important because many people who have depression either don’t want to take antidepressants (e.g. due to stigma, side effects…) or they simply cannot afford them. They will often turn to alternative treatments, which is why the findings of this study are so important. Since depression is the number 4 killer today, these findings provide much-needed hope.

Further research would be very beneficial that directly compares the efficacy Omega-3 supplements with conventional antidepressant medications. Of course, if Omega-3s are shown to be just as effective, the pharmaceutical companies may not especially happy about it. But it will be a significant boon for those who battle depression.

This study in the June 15, 2010 online version of Journal and Clinical Psychiatry.

 
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