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  Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Depression - A Natural Treatment

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Author: Ross Bridgeford

Article source: Used with author's permission.

A new research study has again shown that a diet rich in omega3 fatty acids can effectively treat and prevent depression and other mental disorders.

The research, published in the February issue of the journal, Biological Psychiatry, has actually shown that omega3 fatty acids and foods that are high in uridine were as good as (and often better than) anti-depressant drugs in reducing the symptoms of depression. The unpredictability of anti-depressant drugs has caused much concern for many years, with a large number of doctors and patients questioning their use, and raising concerns about the negative (rather than positive) effects they can cause.

Recently, both Merck and GlaxoSmithKlein (manufacturers of Paxil and Vioxx respectively) have been taken to court over withheld research results which show that antidepressant drugs cause children to behave violently and can increase the likelihood of suicide by up to 400%.

This has resulted in the FDA in the US announcing that it will ensure that all anti-depressant drugs manufacturers must include a ‘black box’ warning label on all antidepressant medications. The European Union has also warned its member states about the risks associated to antidepressant drugs, particularly since the Journal of the American Medical Association published a review of the 102 clinical trials on anti-depressants which showed that results are frequently misreported or hidden.

Based upon this, and other related studies, there now seems to be a large amount of solid, trustworthy evidence to suggest that there is no longer a need to rely upon drugs to treat and prevent depression.

Omega3 Fatty Acids Can Help Prevent and Treat Depression

A high-profile article in 1999, published by the Harvard University, put omega3 in the mental health limelight by offering solid proof that fish oil could significantly reduce the effects of bipolar disorders.

Individuals who had been condemned to years of high-strength, high-risk pharmaceuticals began to switch to courses of omega3 supplementation. This article built upon the findings of a study published in The Lancet which correlated the results of an earlier cross-cultural study into the incidence of depression across ten nations with the consumption of omega3 fatty acids derived from fish. This study showed a strong correlation between the nations where depression was far less frequent and the average intake of omega3 fatty acids.

These findings were then further strengthened by a 2003 research study which was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry. These results, which compared similar cross-national epidemiological data, offered further proof to strengthen the link between omega3 fatty acids and their role in treating and preventing depression and other mental disorders.

Omega3 is an essential fatty acid which is prevalent in flaxseed, pumpkin seed, almonds, many green leafy vegetables and walnuts (more on omega3 fatty acids).

They are known as Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) as the body is not able to synthesise them by itself and relies upon food sources and their health benefits include increased energy, protection against degenerative diseases, a strengthened immune system, and increased brain function.

DHA (docosahexaenoic acid -- a component of omega-3 fatty acids) is essential for developing and protecting the gray matter of the human brain and the retina of the eye, and is used in every cell in the body. Research has shown it to be vital at every stage of human life, beginning in utero.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Depression

Many researchers have correlated the decrease in our daily diets of omega3’s and the increase in degenerative diseases (such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases) and mental illness.

Researchers such as Udo Erasmus cite the huge increase in the intake of highly refined saturated fats and a huge decrease in the consumption of essential fatty acids as the defining factor in the corresponding rise in the number of people diagnosed with degenerative diseases and mental illness over the past century.

Similarly, Dr Joseph Hibbeln of the National Institute for Health in the US, states that: "In the last century, [Western] diets have radically changed and we eat grossly fewer omega-3 fatty acids now. We also know that rates of depression have radically increased by perhaps a hundred-fold." As noted above, the correlation between omega3 fatty acids (more specifically, DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid, EPA) and depression and other mental disorders has been discovered has in dozens of well respected research studies.

Further evidence can be seen in a Finnish study published in the Journal Psyciatric Services during 2001. This large scale study revealed that there was a significantly reduced chance of developing depressive symptoms if individuals consume fish rich in omega3 fatty acids on a regular basis.

A further study in 2003 which was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated that in elderly patients suffering with depression, there were significantly lower levels of omega3 fatty acids.

Omega Oil is a free, non-commercial resource for those looking to learn about the outstanding health benefits of the omega 3 and omega 6 essential fatty acids.

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