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Is Fish Oil Helpful for Depression?
Q: Is fish oil helpful for depression?
A: The amount and type of dietary fat eaten may influence the incidence of depression. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, particularly DHA, are needed for normal nervous system function. People who eat diets high in omega-3 fatty acids from fish have been reported to have a lower incidence of depression and suicide. Depressed people have been reported to have lower omega-3 fatty acid levels (e.g., DHA) than people who are not depressed. Low levels of the other omega-3 fatty acid from fish, EPA, have correlated with increased severity of depression.
In a double-blind trial, people with manic depression were given a very high intake of supplemental omega-3 fatty acids (enough fish oil to contain 9.6 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day) for four months. Ten of 16 people in the placebo group eventually were forced to discontinue the trial due to worsening depression compared with only 3 of 14 taking omega-3 fatty acids. Some scores of depression levels fell as much as 48% in the omega-3 fatty acids group.