Omega 3 and DepressionDepression is a major cause of disease burden worldwide which affects approximately 350 million people. Fish oil supplementation has been a recommended adjunct for treating major depressive disorder (MDD).

According to a new meta-analysis published two weeks ago in Translational Psychiatry researchers further confirm the link between intake of omega-3 fatty acids and the reduction in major depressive disorder. This meta-analysis included 13 studies with 1233 participants which included only random placebo-controlled trials assessing the effects of EFA supplementation on depressive symptoms in MDD. In addition, whether the supplementation effects depended upon EPA or DHA dose or their ratio.

Among the participants, those who supplemented with EPA and DHA had similar effects as compared to meta-analyses of those taking antidepressants. In addition, this effect was greater in studies where participants were supplementing with higher doses of EPA. Furthermore, the present meta-analysis demonstrated that EPA/DHA ratio had no significant effect nor did the DHA dose. The DHA did not have an effect on the MDD systems. In conclusion, this suggests that it is not the ratio of EPA vs DHA that is important, but the higher EPA dose. It is interesting that EPA seems to be responsible for the beneficial effects of omega fatty acid supplementation while DHA concentrations appear to vary more between patients and controls. We must consider that the beneficial effects of EFA supplementation are not because the supplementation corrects a membrane DHA insufficiency, but due to the anti-inflammatory properties of EPA.

This new meta-analysis supports earlier research on the importance and beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids in MDD and this effect seemed more significant in studies including those who supplemented with higher doses of EPA and included patients taking antidepressants.

Also, we should consider natural alternatives to anti-depressants such as Sceletium tortuosum and Saffron flower. Sceletium tortuosum has attracted increasing attention over past few decades for promoting a sense of wellbeing and treating depression and Saffron flower has had numerous studies demonstrating positive outcomes on MDD and has gone head to head with SSRIs demonstrating the same efficacy.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN

Source: R J T Mocking, I Harmsen, J Assies, M W J Koeter, H G Ruhe, A H Schene. Meta-analysis and meta-regression of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation for major depressive disorder. Translational Psychiatry (2016) 6, e756; doi:10.1038/tp.2016.29 Published online 15 March 2016

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