Omega-3 Fatty Acids + Depression
Depression is a common but serious mood disorder, which effects how an individual feels, thinks and handles daily activities. Depression causes feelings of sadness and worthlessness, sleep disturbances, impaired concentration, fatigue, indecisiveness and even suicidal ideation. Worldwide, it is estimated that 350 million people of all ages are suffering from depression; it is a leading cause of disability and a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.
The pathophysiology of depression is said to be an imbalance, mainly in serotonergic and noradrenergic neurotransmission. Fluoxetine is often prescribed as an antidepressant, it is a selective serotonin inhibitor (SSRI), which elevates mood, relieves symptoms and reduces social impairment. Somewhere along the line, you've probably heard of that Omega-3 is good for your brain. Did you know it can have a beneficial role in the management of depression? Well, actually there are a number of clinical trials, which compare Omega-3 with fluoxetine in the management of depressive symptoms. Interestingly, amongst Su, Jazayeri, Ginty & Conklin and Laino there is promising evidence that 1g of Omega-3 and 20mg of fluoxetine have equal therapeutic effects amongst patients with depression. It is suggested that Omega-3 and fluoxetine in combination is superior to either intervention individually.
Win for nutrition!!
Ok cool. So how exactly does Omega-3 help to support the management of depression? Omega-3 is a polyunsaturated essential fatty acid; the three main types include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Low levels of Omega-3 have been linked to depression. Depression is associated with inflammatory response over activity of the immune system, particularly, secretions of increased inflammatory cytokine and eicosanoid. Omega-3 affects inflammatory pathways: Omega-3 decreases eicosanoid production, whereas Omega-6 PUFA, arachidonic acid is the major precursor of pro-inflammatory series of eicosanoids. Inflammatory cytokines provoke a range of psychiatric symptoms, reflecting depression. Depression is connected to high cortisol levels in blood due to hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis hyperactivity, mostly because of a hypersecretion of corticotropin releasing hormone. Omega-3 might regulate HPA axis dysfunction supplementary to depression through reducing corticosterone secretion and corticotrophin releasing factor expression.
In summary, Omega-3 has an anti-inflammatory role in the management of depression.
How can I get some Omega-3 in my diet?
Some great sources of Omega-3 include fish, flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds and spirulina.
This information is not to be used in place of directions from your health professional. If you'd like to discuss how Omega-3 could support your moods considering making an appointment with a qualified nutritionist.