You may have heard that omega 3 fatty acids can actually play a role in the treatment and prevention of depression. Does the rumor reign true? Can consuming omega 3 fatty acids really help fight depression? This article will give you all the information you need to know on the hot topic of omega 3 fatty acids and depression. To begin, we will start by explaining what omega 3 fatty acids are.
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids. This means that they are vital for human health. However, the body can’t make these essential fatty acids, so we get them in our diet by consuming foods that contain them, such as nuts, fish, and other seafood like algae (Ehrlich, 2011). So what makes omega 3 fatty acids so important? Well, other than reducing inflammation and lowering the risk of chronic diseases including heart disease, cancer and arthritis, omega 3 fatty acids are crucial in brain function and development (Ehrlich, 2011). The concentration of omega 3 fatty acids in the brain is high, making them important for cognitive and behavioral function (Ehrlich, 2011).This is where omega 3 fatty acids link to depression, since depression is a mental disorder.
DO OMEGA 3’S REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
There have been varied results found through studies about whether omega 3 fatty acids can relieve depression symptoms. Some studies state that they have found no benefit of omega 3 fatty acids on depression. Others have found that if those suffering from depression take omega 3 in addition to their prescribed antidepressants, they have greater improvement than those not taking omega 3s. (Ehrlich, 2011).Those who intake a higher ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 are less likely to get depressed overtime. Also, countries that eat a lot of fish high in omega 3 fatty acids have a lower depression rate than those countries that don’t. However, tests have been done that show that those who have depression along with an anxiety disorder do not benefit from taking higher doses of omega 3 fatty acids than those struggling with depression alone (Raison, 2011). Types of Omega 3 Fatty Acids Involved with Improving Mood Swings: The two types of omega 3 fatty acids that play a big role in a healthy brain and mood are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)(Harrar, 2012).
DHA are part of the membrane in brain cells and work where chemical signals are passed from cell to cell. EPA reduces inflammatory processes in the brain and balance metabolic pathways. Both EPA and DHA working together show apparent benefits for depression and suicide (Harrar, 2012).Various researches through laboratory and population studies and clinical trials suggest that increasing EPA and DHA levels in the body can make a difference. EPA and DHA are thought to be as active as antidepressants and are highly effective in preventing and managing depression. However, in order to get the results of improved depression, your body needs a little more EPA than DHA (Harrar, 2012).Research has shown that taking only DHA will not exhibit antidepressant benefits, and EPA is the predominant compound in improving mental health
Our brains are 60% fat, and the structure for certain parts of brain cell members and brain nerve connections are made from omega 3 fatty acids, because they are the central choice for the brain makeup. When a person is deficient in omega 3, the brain cells utilize other fatty acids that aren’t as efficient for brain activity as omega 3’s, resulting in brain cells being constructed with substandard building material (Barclay, 2007). A symptom of being deficient in omega 3 fatty acids is depression and mood swings. With depression, there are lower levels of omega 3 fatty acids in the blood.
High levels of omega-3 makes it easier for serotonin: a chemical that carries messages from one brain cell to another to pass through cell membranes. Imbalanced levels of serotonin causes depression (“Fish oil to treat depression?”, Retrieved Dec 14, 2012).Because of this, people who are struggling with depression can take supplements of omega 3’s or eat more foods with these fatty acids that were mentioned previously. However, depression is not easy to treat, and increasing the intake of omega 3 alone will not treat depression. They should not replace antidepressant medications. Do not try and treat yourself for depression, you should always talk to your doctor first about the supplements you should take in order to alleviate symptoms. WHAT IS THE CONCLUSION?
So, what is the answer to whether or not omega 3 fatty acids can treat depression? Many studies have shown that there is clearly a link between omega 3 fatty acids and depression. Depression is due to chemical imbalances in the brain, and our brains are mostly made up of omega 3 fatty acids, which aid in many mental processes. Deficiency in omega 3 results in symptoms of depression. Therefore, increasing levels of omega 3 fatty acids in your diet can reduce or prevent depression and mood swings. Despite tests that prove the reduction of depressive symptoms, further research is needed to confirm their role in eliminating depression (Waterworth, 2011).
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