Effects of omega-3 fatty acids on the prevention, etiology, treatment of depression

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition & Intermediary Medicine suggests that long-chain omega-3 (LCn-3) fatty acids influence the development and symptoms of major depressive disorder (MDD). Researchers from the University of Cincinnati believe that increasing the intake of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and other LCn-3 fatty acids can help prevent the onset of depressive symptoms and syndromal MDD.

  • A review of case-control studies uncovered that patients with MDD showed lower levels of erythrocyte EPA and/or DHA. These fatty acids are acquired by consuming fish and fish oil.
  • Reduced levels of the LCn-3 fatty acids are linked to higher chances of cardiovascular disease and suicide, two leading causes of excess premature death for patients with MDD.
  • Given the antidepressant effects of erythrocyte EPA and DHA, increasing the LCn-3 fatty acids levels might help improve depression. Supplementation could support the effect of conventional antidepressant treatment.
  • Rats were used to conduct neuroimaging and neurodevelopmental studies on omega-3 deficiencies. These animal models showed that low levels of LCn-3 fatty acids could repeat the main pathophysiological features linked with MDD.
  • Low levels of LCn-3 fatty acids can lead to increased pro-inflammatory responses. The increase in inflammatory episodes seems to contribute to depressive symptoms, and higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids can protect against the initial development of MDD.

The researchers suggest that a deficiency in long chain omega-3 fatty acids should be considered a modifiable risk factor for major depressive disorders. Routine clinical screening and treatment algorithms for patients with MDD should look for signs of this deficiency in the future.

Read the full text of the study at this link.

You can find more articles about other healthy supplements at SupplementsReports.com.

Journal reference

Mcnamara RK. ROLE OF OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS IN THE ETIOLOGY, TREATMENT, AND PREVENTION OF DEPRESSION: CURRENT STATUS AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS. Journal of Nutrition & Intermediary Metabolism. 2016;5:96–106. DOI: 10.1016/j.jnim.2016.04.004.

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