Can Omega-3s Improve My Mood?
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for decreasing inflammation and improve heart health. Can a simple fish oil supplement help fight depression? Research is still ongoing. But fatty acid may boast some essential mental health benefits.
What are omega-3s?
There are two main types of fatty acids in a typical fish oil supplement. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) have been linked to heart disease prevention, lowered cholesterol, and decreased risk of rheumatoid arthritis. An omega-3 supplement may even help to prevent certain types of cancer.
What does the research say about depression?
A review of significant studies evaluated 3 types of depression: major depression in adults, depression in children, and bipolar depression. Overall, the research found that a supplement with EPA worked better to decrease symptoms than a placebo supplement. Other research showed that DHA also played an essential role in reducing minor depression, postpartum depression, suicidal ideation. While these studies show promising results, research is ongoing.
Should I start a supplement?
For some people, eating fatty fish 2-4 times per week can provide the necessary amount of these healthy oils. Some of these oily fish include sardines, salmon, trout, and canned tuna. While food sources are usually the best way to get adequate nutrients, there is some concern with higher levels of mercury in these types of fish. This may be one area where a supplement can be helpful.
Too much of a good thing
There can be some adverse health effects to taking too much fish oil. Overconsumption of omega-3s can increase bleeding risk, LDL cholesterol, and lead to difficulty with blood sugar control. Before starting any supplement, consult with a healthcare provider or pharmacist to learn more about the safety of the supplement and recommendations.
Part of a treatment plan
Omega-3 fatty acids can be helpful in conjunction with other treatment methods for depression. Many people who struggle with depression benefit from talk therapy, lifestyle changes, and possible medication. Exercising regularly, implementing a daily routine, meditating, and journaling are just a few management tools for dealing with depression.
When to see a doctor
Anyone struggling with symptoms of depression should seek help from a healthcare provider or therapist. If daily tasks have become difficult and moods have shifted significantly, a visit with a medical professional may be helpful. For more information about omega-3s and supplements for depression, speak with a healthcare provider or pharmacist.