Depression can be debilitating, scary and it often carries the stigma of shame. It is estimated that major depressive disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older.1
- Fish oil can provide relief for the blues
- The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil can elevate your mood
- Omega-3 fatty acids are therapeutic for bipolar disorder
If you have experienced persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest in life, and you have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, you should consider psychological counseling or other forms of treatment. Your primary care doctor may prescribe medication to help you manage the blues. If you’re looking for alternative remedies to ease your depression, consider taking a quality fish oil supplement.
A major study examining the effectiveness of fish oil supplements and depression was conducted by Dr. Francoise Lesp?rance and his colleagues at the Department of Psychiatry, Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal in Canada. During this eight-week study, 432 adult participants with major depression were given three capsules per day of a fish oil supplement containing high concentrations of the omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Other subjects were given a placebo consisting of sunflower oil.
At the conclusion of the study, it was determined that the group given omega-3 fatty acids displayed reduced depressive symptoms.2 These results are promising for people searching for natural remedies to alleviate the blues.
The scientific community reports that the consumption of fish oil is not only beneficial for easing symptoms of depression, it also has a positive effect on mood. Researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine3 have discovered that the essential omega-3 fatty acids contained in fish oil may be therapeutic for bipolar disorder, a condition characterized by extreme mood swings.
During the study, laboratory mice with characteristics of bipolar disorder – including depression, stress and mania – were given doses of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), one of the beneficial omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil. It was observed that DHA normalized the behavior of the mice, lessened their stress response and reduced their mania or mood swings. OmegaMx, a high quality fish oil supplement, is rich in the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.
Fish oil offers hope for women who suffer from postpartum depression (PPD) as well. Canadian researchers at the University of Montreal and the Research Centre at the Sainte-Justine Mother and Child Hospital say that4 new mothers who have low levels of omega-3 may be at a greater risk of developing postpartum depression. Also known as the “baby blues,” PPD can occur in the first few months after childbirth and cause a woman to feel sad, hopeless and worthless and unable to bond with her infant.
Researchers believe there is a link between pregnancy, omega-3 fatty acids and the chemical reaction that allows the mood regulator serotonin to be released into the human brain. Because omega-3 is transferred from the mother to her fetus and later to her breastfeeding infant, medical experts believe that omega-3 levels are sharply reduced during pregnancy and remain lowered for at least six-weeks after the birth. New moms are advised to increase their consumption of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids contained in fish oil to reduce the symptoms of PPD.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter found in the human gastrointestinal tract, platelets and nervous system. As stated above, it is considered a mood regulator and thought to contribute to feelings of heightened well-being and happiness. According to WebMD5, researchers say cell membranes are made up partly of omega-3s, and increasing levels of these beneficial fatty acids in the body makes it easier for serotonin to pass through cell membranes.
Schizophrenia is a disorder that has responded well to the omega-3 fatty acids contained in fish oil. Scientists explain that schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, and disabling brain disorder that can cause people to hear voices and become withdrawn or extremely agitated.
Researchers believe there is considerable clinical evidence that shows omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA are useful for treating this illness. The Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa studied schizophrenic patients who had a diet low in EPA.
They conducted four clinical trials where participants were given EPA or a placebo. Two of the trials showed significant benefit with the group taking EPA. The study concluded that there is considerable evidence to suggest that the EPA found in fish oil can be an effective supplement to antipsychotics taken by patients with schizophrenia.6
Although depression can be a serious disorder that sucks the joy out of your life, you can come out of the shadows. If you suffer from the blues, speak to your primary care physician to determine which course of action will ease those chronic feelings of hopelessness and despair – whether it’s therapy, medication of alternative remedies.
Find an accountability partner to share your bouts with the blues. It helps to talk things out instead of keeping dark feelings inside.
Try to exercise daily. Even a brisk walk taken three times a week can help bring mental clarity, experts say.
Get plenty of sunshine! People who suffer from depression often find themselves unable to get out of bed and they stay in dark rooms with the shades drawn. Spending time in a drab, dreary bedroom only heightens feelings of loss and isolation. Medical professionals say sunlight can help lift your mood.
Don’t forget your ZZZs. If you’ve been sleep deprived for weeks because of the blues, this can interfere with your ability to think clearly. Scientists say disrupted sleep is one of the most potent triggers of depression. Six to eight hours of sleep will help you feel refreshed and brighten your outlook on life.
In addition to these small steps, consider taking a high quality fish oil supplement. As research has proven again and again, the beneficial omega-3s contained in fish oil capsules provide relief for the blues and uplift your mood. Don’t suffer in silence any longer.