Feeling depressed can be a sign of a poor diet, research suggests.
Indeed, healthy diets are often overlooked as a major factor in recovering from depression.
An important component of a healthy diet is omega-3 fatty acids.
Studies have found that omega-3 supplements can be beneficial for people with depression.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential as our body cannot make them.
Omega-3 can be obtained from the diet or through supplementation.
Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include walnuts, chia seeds, soybean, hemp seed, salmon, trout, sardines, and mackerel.
While the standard treatment for depression is antidepressants, many people discontinue them for fear over the side-effects and start using alternative treatments.
Dr. François Lespérance, who has studied the effects of omega-3 on depression, said:
“Despite significant progress in neuroscience over the past two decades, depression is difficult to treat.
Many of these treatments have not been adequately evaluated.
That is why it was important to assess the efficacy of Omega-3, one of the most popular alternative approaches.”
The study included 432 people with depression.
Half took 1050mg of EPA each day for eight weeks.
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is one of the three main omega-3 fatty acids.
The other group took a placebo that was flavoured with fish oil so they would not know the difference.
The results showed that for people who were depressed, but not anxious, the omega-3 fatty acid was effective at reducing depression.
The study’s authors conclude:
“In this heterogeneous sample of patients with MDE, there was only a trend toward superiority of omega-3 supplementation over placebo in reducing depressive symptoms.
However, there was a clear benefit of omega-3 supplementation among patients with MDE without comorbid anxiety disorders.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (Lespérance et al., 2011).