The Bottom Line On Can Omega 3 Help With Anxiety
Despite studies being in their infancy, the evidence so far suggests that omega-three fatty acids can help to improve symptoms of anxiety and depression. If youre struggling with mental health issues, your doctor can help determine whether omega-three supplements could be right for you.
However, its important to note that even if you are taking a supplement high in omega-3 fatty acids, this doesnt mean it will be sufficient for everyone experiencing anxiety everyone responds differently to different foods and supplements.
Omega-3 fatty acids boast many health benefits, so giving them a try may be worthwhile especially if youre struggling with anxiety or depression. The worst that can happen is that they dont help, but the best-case scenario is that you find a natural way to ease your anxiety or depression symptoms. So, why not give them a shot?
Can Fish Oil Make Anxiety Worse
Omega 3 fats have no effect on depression. Increased consumption of Omega 3 fats is promoted globally because of the belief that it will protect against depression and anxiety. However, a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found that there is no evidence to support these claims. In fact, the researchers found no link between the intake of fish oil and the risk of developing depression or anxiety disorders.
The study was conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco and was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health . The researchers looked at data from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study , which is a prospective cohort study of more than 30,000 men and women who were followed for an average of 10 years.
Participants were asked whether they had ever been diagnosed with depression, anxiety or both, and if so, how severe their symptoms were. They also answered questions about their diet and lifestyle habits, including how much fish they ate and how often they exercised. After adjusting for other factors that could affect the results, they found there was no significant association between fish consumption and depressive symptoms.
Struggling With Anxiety Depression Or Low Mood Omega
Video Friday: Dr. Bill Harris discusses research showing how adults and children with higher omega-3s tend to have lower levels of anxiety, depression, and have better mood
Its Video Friday! Todays short video features Dr. Bill Harris as he discusses several studies showing how people who take high enough amounts of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA can improve their anxiety and mood issues. In fact, those who had a higher Omega-3 Index benefitted the most.
Please take a moment to watch and share the video along with the detailed information below.
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Assessment Of Risk Of Bias In Included Studies
We assessed Cochrane risk-of-bias domains,Reference Higgins, Altman, Sterne, Higgins and Green25 and also assessed risk from adherence problems and attention bias specifically for our reviews.Reference Abdelhamid, Brown, Brainard, Biswas, Thorpe and Moore15Reference Thorpe, Ajabnoor, Ahmed, Abdelhamid and Hooper23 Included trials were judged at low summary risk of bias where randomisation, allocation concealment, blinding of participants, personnel and outcome assessors were adequate .
Why The Body Needs A Specific Amount Of Omega
Each of our bodys approximately 30 trillion cells has a cell membrane, and every nutrient or signal coming into the cell has to pass through this membrane. Thanks to their unique double-bond structure, omega-3s and their counterparts, omega-6s, play a unique role in influencing the fluidity of the cell membrane and the cells response to inflammation.
For thousands of years, human evolved on a diet featuring an even ratio of omega-6s and omega-3s. Todays Western diet, however, contains on average 15 times more omega-6s than omega-3s, thanks to processed foods. This lopsided fatty acid ratio has consequences, wreaking havoc on our cell membranes. In fact, this imbalance is believed to promote numerous health issues like cardiovascular disease, cancer, and autoimmune diseases.
Think about it this way: If you had a football game with 15 players on one side and a single player on the other, adding one or two more players to the losing side wouldnt help much. If you want a balanced game, you have to give both teams an equal number of players. The same logic applies to our consumption of omega-3s and omega-6s.
Comparison With Other Research
The Multi-country Project on the Role of Diet, Food-related Behavior, and Obesity in the Prevention of Depression trial randomised participants to 1.4 g/d LCn3 plus additional micronutrients or placebo and found no effect on diagnosis of major depressive disorder after 1 year in 1025 overweight adults with subsyndromal depressive symptoms.Reference Bot, Brouwer, Roca, Kohls, Penninx and Watkins63 This trial is not included in our systematic review as the intervention was multifactorial , but confirms our review findings that LCn3 supplementation does not help to prevent depression. We found no previous systematic reviews of RCTs on effects of omega-6 or total PUFA, none separated out effects of ALA, and none assessed effects on prevention of depression. Systematic reviews on anxiety have included trials of very short duration and without controls.Reference Su, Tseng, Lin, Okubo, Chen and Chen64
LCn3 was mainly provided in supplementary form, so although there was no suggestion of different effects in trials of dietary advice or where oily fish was provided to participants compared with trials of LCn3 supplements, effects of dietary fish may differ .
Fish Oil Supplements May Help Fight Depression
FRIDAY, June 18, 2021 Fish oil supplements are often touted as good for your heart health, but a new study finds they may also help fight depression.
Using a combination of laboratory and patient research, our study has provided exciting new insight into how omega-3 fatty acids bring about anti-inflammatory effects that improve depression, said lead author Alessandra Borsini, a postdoctoral neuroscientist at Kings College London.
Borsini said its been known that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids have anti-depressant and anti-inflammatory effects, but exactly how that happens has been unclear.
Our study has helped shine a light on the molecular mechanisms involved in this relationship, which can inform the development of potential new treatments for depression using omega-3 PUFA, Borsini said in a university news release.
Previous studies have shown that people with major depression have elevated levels of inflammation, but no proven anti-inflammatory treatments for depression exist.
The patient portion of this new study included 22 people with major depression.
Once a day for 12 weeks, they were given one of two omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids â either 3 grams of eicosapentaenoic acid or 1.4 grams of docosahexaenoic acid .
EPA and DHA are omega-3 PUFAs found in oily fish.
The findings were published June 16 in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
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How A High Dose Of Fish Oil May Help Anxietyand More
To rebalance the surplus of omega-6s in our diet, the amount of extra omega-3s we need each day ranges from 2000 mg and up. For certain conditions , studies routinely use significantly higher doses to achieve benefits. Theres very little research showing that small doses will make a difference for any chronic medical condition, including anxiety.
Today, most people consume 15 times more omega-6s than omega-3s through their daily diet. To understand why you need more than a few drops of omega-3s to counteract that imbalance, picture a football game. If you have 15 players for the omega-6 side and just one or two players on the omega-3 side, the omega-3 side will lose.
Omega 3 Foods To Improve Mental Health And Relieve Anxiety
If you know anything about nutrition, you know that numerous reports are floating around regarding the power of omega-3 foods. Theyre well known for their abilities to reduce high triglyceride levels to help your heart health, but did you also know that they are widely used to help with mental health issues too?
Yes, omega-3s are known to ease the pangs of psychiatric conditions, according to the National Library of Medicine.
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Side Effects And Other Safety Considerations
Omega-3s are generally safe and well tolerated. Stomach upset and “fishy taste” have been the most common complaints, but they are less frequent now thanks to manufacturing methods that reduce impurities. Past concerns about omega-3s increasing the risk of bleeding have been largely disproven, but caution is still advised in people taking blood thinners or who are about to undergo surgery. As mentioned, caution is needed in people with bipolar disorder to prevent cycling to mania. Because omega-3s are important to brain development, and pregnancy depletes omega-3 in expectant mothers, supplementation should theoretically benefit pregnant women and their children. Fish consumption in pregnancy is supported by the FDA, but because we do not have long-term data on safety or optimal dosing of omega-3s in pregnancy, expectant mothers should consider omega-3 supplements judiciously.
Fish Oils And Anxiety
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are present in fish oils. Over the years, researchers have ascribed a wide range of health benefits to them, but not all are supported by evidence.
In recent years, some scientists have tested omega-3s potential to help in the treatment of psychiatric conditions, including mood and anxiety disorders .
Studies investigating the anti-anxiety effects of omega-3 PUFAs in animal models have seen some success for instance, a in rats found that a diet rich in a PUFA called eicosapentaenoic acid reduced anxiety-like behaviors.
In humans, research has shown a relationship between PUFA levels and anxiety. For instance, one
These studies and others, though, have been limited by their small size. To rectify this, researchers recently carried out the first systematic review on this topic. They explain their aim:
e examined, they point out, the anxiolytic effects of omega-3 PUFAs in participants with elevated anxiety symptoms in the results of clinical trials to determine the overall efficacy of omega-3 PUFAs for anxiety symptoms irrespective of diagnosis.
Most of the studies demonstrated a positive effect of omega-3 PUFAs on anxiety, even though not all effect sizes were significant. However, when the data were pooled, the combined effect was statistically significant.
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Hints From Dietary Studies
The first hint of omega 3’s impact on depressive conditions – including anxiety – comes from a number of wide-ranging dietary studies.
One such study involved 7,903 participants who were studied over a period of two years. Throughout the investigation each individual recorded their diet, as well as completed questionnaires designed to highlight any depressive conditions.
During the study period 335 cases of anxiety were experienced by participants, and by cross-referencing these situations with omega 3 intake conclusions could be drawn. The results showed that the more fish that participants consumed, the lower their odds of suffering from anxiety. Indeed, those individuals consuming higher volumes of oily fish were found to be 30% less likely to suffer from negative mental conditions including anxiety, stress and depression.
Another study addressed the problem from a different direction, comparing the level of omega 3 in clinically depressed individuals with those of healthy participants. Once again a similar pattern was found, with the anxious participants demonstrating lower levels of omega 3.
Lastly, it is worth mentioning one even larger study that included the results of 255,076 different individuals found that dietary n-3 PUFA intake is associated with a lower risk of depression. While this doesn’t of course prove that a low intake of omega 3 fats causes conditions like anxiety, it does at least help to demonstrate a relationship between the two.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids And Mood Disorders
Adopting the Western diet and moving away from the Mediterranean diet has had a serious health impact. The increased consumption of omega 6 fatty acids and the dramatic reduced intake of omega 3 fatty acids seem to be associated with many inflammatory conditions and mental illnesses.
Many studies have shown that people who consumed adequate amounts of omega 3 fatty acids, either via food or supplements, were significantly less likely to develop depression or anxiety disorders.
In addition, there is evidence that supports that people who suffer from depression and experience anxiety disorders, had an improvement in their mood and a reduction in their symptoms by up to 60%, after taking omega 3 fatty acids . Omega 3 fatty acids have also been shown to have a positive effect on pregnancy, on postpartum depression, on menopause and on people with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
One reason omega-3 fatty acids can be so beneficial to mental health issues is that they help reduce inflammation, which is the root of most diseases.
Although taking omega 3 fat cannot be considered as a treatment, it is a natural antidepressant supplement that can help mood and improve your mental health.
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Fish Oil / Omega 3 For Anxiety
The research here is much more promising. Not only have studies shown that getting Omega 3 in your diet regularly reduces your chances of depression. But also people who already suffer with either anxiety or depression see their symptoms improve when taking an Omega 3 supplement.
Now there are different types of Omega 3, so we need to briefly understand those before you rush out and buy a supplement that may not contain what you really want. Not all Omega 3 supplements contain the good stuff you dont need to spend much, you just need to choose the right products.
The main Omega 3 fatty acids are ALA, EPA and DHA. These all have much longer fancier names, but these short names are normally all you need to know and should be listed on supplement bottles. If they arent listed, thats an immediate red flag!
DHA is important for all sorts of brain related functions it is a key building block of your brain after all, making up 15%-20% of your entire brain.
But its EPA that appears to be the star performer when it comes to depression potentially even as effective as the commonly prescribed antidepressant Prozac!
Risk Of Bias Of Included Studies
Fig. 1 Itemised risk of bias for included randomised controlled trials.
Effects of increasing omega-3, omega-6 or total PUFA on risk of depression symptoms
Fig. 2 Meta-analysis of trials randomising to higher versus lower long-chain omega-3 , alpha-linolenic acid , omega-3 and total polyunsaturated fatty acid intake and reporting risk of depression symptoms.
GRADE assessment suggests that increasing LCn3 probably has little or no effect on risk of depression symptoms . This was confirmed in data on depression symptoms analysed as continuous data in 15 trials including participants not selected for depression at baseline .
Data were limited from trials of ALA and total PUFA on depression . We found no data from trials of omega-6 . GRADE suggests that increasing ALA may increase risk of depression symptoms very slightly and effects of increasing total PUFA on depression risk are unclear as the evidence is of very low quality .
Effects of increasing omega-3, omega-6 or total PUFA on depression severity and remission in those with existing depression
Effects of increasing omega-3, omega-6 or total PUFA on risk of anxiety symptoms, severity and remission
Fig. 3 Meta-analysis of trials randomising to higher versus lower long-chain omega-3 intake and assessing anxiety.
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Serotonin In Anxiety And Depression
According to Joseph R. Hibbeln from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, omega-3 can affect the functionality of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which plays a critical role in both depression and anxiety. Depression and anxiety have similar chemical profiles. Both disorders are characterized by low brain levels of serotonin. The most widely used antidepressant drugs, selective serotonin re-intake inhibitors, or SSRIs, work by slowing the speed with which serotonin outside the neurons is broken down and re-absorbed into the cells. These drugs are also commonly prescribed for anxiety disorders. If omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent depression by increasing the functionality of serotonin, it can also help prevent anxiety.
Omega 3 And Depression
As the most common type of depressive disorder, clinical depression affects up to 20% of women and 10% of men at any one time. This disorder has a wide range of severity and duration because there are multiple suspected causes.
Genetics, environment, diet, and psychological factors can all contribute to the onset of depression. Yet, the most solid theory is that its caused by a chemical imbalance within the brain. There is a bit of a debate about which chemicals are involved and exactly how brain signaling is affected, but its mostly agreed that there is an impairment in the signaling.
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What Supplements Cause Anxiety
Some of the ingredients in weight loss supplements have been found to cause anxiety. Guarana and green tea extracts are common ingredients in weight loss supplements that contain high amounts of caffeine, while saint johns wort produces side effects including anxiety, insomnia, and irritability.
In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association , researchers found that people who took supplements containing caffeine were more likely to be anxious than those who didnt. The study also found a link between anxiety and anxiety-like behaviors, such as avoiding social situations and avoiding activities that require concentration.
What About Supplements For Anxiety And Depression
This is one of the very few occasions where a supplement can make a lot of sense.
Its near impossible to get the daily maintenance amounts from food alone that experts recommend for healthy people. At least not without worrying about toxins from too much seafood!
And to see benefits in terms of reducing anxiety you may need to go far higher than this anyway.
So using a good quality Omega 3 supplement can offer the best of both worlds for most people.
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