Today, the antidepressant medicines continue to raise more concerns about their side effects. These include clinical worsening depression, odd changes in the behaviour of children and adolescents, and suicide.
In recent times, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) directed all drug manufacturers to attach black box warnings to their antidepressant drugs. This label is the most serious warning for a prescription drug.
Both doctors and patients are looking for safer alternative treatments. A new research paper tells that omega-3 fatty acids may successfully ease depression without the risky side effects.
There is growing evidence that omega-3s can improve the mood and helps in restoring the structural integrity of the brain cells that are essential in performing different cognitive functions.
The omega-3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) may be highly efficient in preventing and managing depression and cognitive turndown, according to a mounting body of evidence.
The treatment recommended by the American Psychiatric Association for the use of omega-3 fatty acids provides proof to this kind of strategy. Dr. Joseph R. Hibbeln tells that the “strongest evidence was discovered for managing major depressive symptoms, with the effect of omega-3 fatty acids being at least as great, if not greater than, antidepressant treatments.” Dr. Hibbeln works at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism or NIAAA. He added that deficient intakes of omega-3s may increase the hazard for mental suffering.
There are many studies suggesting the benefits for omega-3s, which are abundant in fish oils. Omega-3 fatty acids might ease the pain of arthritis and lower the risk of heart attack.
If you consume lots of omega-3 fatty acids may offer potent protection against depression. There was a Norwegian study with 22,000 participants revealing that those people who frequently took cod liver oil are less likely to have high levels of depression.
The effect of omega-3 supplementation was studied by the Royal College of Surgeon in Ireland. They observed 49 patients and were randomly assigned to receive placebo or “1200 mg EPA plus 900 mg DHA” for 12 months.
At the end of the experiment, the group received omega-3 fatty acids had considerably greater improvements compared with the group who took the placebo in scores for daily stresses, depression, and suicidality.
Another study suggests that individuals who are still depressed in spite of antidepressant medication. But when these people too omega-3 supplements, the intensity of their anxiety, depression, sleep dysfunction, sleep disturbances.
How Omega-3 Fatty Acids Fight Depression
Numerous scientists are intensely exploring how omega-3s helps in promoting a healthy mood.
A new research resolves and spells out on how omega-3 deficiency may worsen depressed mood. The scientists studied the plasma levels of neurosteroids and vital fatty acids, which are neuroactive chemicals, present in numerous disease and neurophysical processes.
They studied 18 men who are healthy, and 34 men with depression, alcoholism, or both. With those participants, it was found out that lower omega-3 level was linked with higher levels of “neuroactive steroids.”
It comes out that DHA deficiency has far-ranging hormonal effects, and increasing corticotrophin-releasing hormone. This is a hormone that balances emotionality. This event adds to hyperactivity within the HPA or hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis, which is a very important neuroendocrine system that controls aggression, mood, and “fight-or-flight” reactions linked with anxiety.
The facts are becoming pretty convincing that the increasing omega-3 intake boosts various aspects of brain function. This includes the aspects of personality and the control of mood. Dr. Brian M. Ross, an associate professor at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine of Lakehead University explained this thing.
If you will combine the outcomes of a series of clinical tests, they evidently show that omega-3 supplements, particularly EPA and DHA, help lessen the symptoms connected with clinical depression. Other data suggest that regular intake of omega-3 fatty acids reduce aggression and increase attention, possibly by boosting cognitive processes.
According to Dr. Ross, omega-3 deficiency in major depressive disorder may mirror the interaction between a diet deficient with important polyunsaturated fatty acids or PUFAs, and a hereditary determined defect in their metabolism, such that “cellular uptake” of omega-3 PUFAs is reduced. Low level of omega-3 fats could be a risk depression. On the other hand, dietary supplementation with omega-3s might be a valuable and well-tolerated management of major depressive disorder.
Since the brain tissue loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, predominantly in the membranes of 3 different kinds of brain cells, this connection between omega-3 fats and brain health is hardly unforeseen. These important fatty acids are needed for proper development, growth, and brain tissue function.
According to Dr. Douglas London, a medical faculty at Harvard Medical School and a Research Associate in Psychiatry at the Psychopharmacological Research Laboratory of McLean Hospital, the human brain is 60% fat. The omega-3 fatty acids are the fatty acids important for the structure of “certain parts of the brain cell membranes and the brain intercellular nerve connections.”
He added that a diet with insufficient amount of omega-3 fatty acids forces the brain cells to make use of the other fatty acids that are available, this results in cells built with substandard construction material. Dr. London said that the unavailability of omega-3 fatty acids affects brain function, and is related to emotional and cognitive disorders. There is mounting evidence that a large fraction of the U.S population is at risk for omega-3 deficiency.
How Omega-3 Fatty Acids Affect Brain Function and Mood
More proof can strengthen the relationship between omega-3 fatty acids deficiency and unhappy mood. The evidence was presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society in Budapest, Hungary in March 2007.
Dr. Sarah M. Conklin’s study is one of the studies presented at that conference. This postdoctoral scholar in Cardiovascular Behavioural Medicine, Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh mentioned that in healthy adults, the low EPA levels were associated with high levels of impetuous behaviour, aggression, and cynical thoughts. Low levels of either DHA or EPA are related to high degrees of outburst and anger.
Also, Dr. Conklin said that omega-3 fats have prevalent biological functions in the body, which includes the brain. Her study revealed that people who have higher levels of omega-3 in their blood are less expected to experience symptoms of depression.
Dr. Conklin presented another study in that meeting, which demonstrated that, the quantity of omega-3 present in a diet in fact, cause beneficial anatomical changes in areas of the brain that control emotion. The study shows that the more omega-3 fatty acids present in a diet leads to more gray matter volume in various areas of the brain, which are vital for regulating mood. It is true that some fats may yield effects against depression and other mood-related issues.
It is interesting to note that autopsy of the brains of patients with major depressive disorder illustrates “selective deficits in DHA in the orbitofrontal cortex. The orbitofrontal cortex is another region in the brain linked with mood disorders and depression.
Furthermore, low levels of omega-3s are associated with poor performance on memory and cognitive tests. As we age, we normally experience rapid cognitive deterioration.
A handful of marine foods is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which includes mollusks and salmon. It is very important for people to consume the adequate amount of it.
Mental function and mood are inevitably associated with damaging cognitive ability. As a matter of fact, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias initially appear as alterations in attitude and character. Needless to say, the insufficiency of omega-3 fats has also been linked to cognitive damage, whereas diets with omega-3 supplements are beneficial to the cognitive function.