World Mental Health Day – Omega 3s can make a difference

Today is World Mental Health Day, as Conor and I discovered walking through Kingston town

Conor with his balloon from mental health charity MIND

Conor with his balloon from mental health charity MIND

centre this morning. He was delighted to be handed a balloon by MIND volunteers promoting the day, while I was delighted that the balloon entertained him for over an hour in his pushchair. Happy child, happy mummy.

It is well established that omega 3 fats help in heart disease and brain development. However, new research is emerging that these oils found in fish can also be effective in improving mood disorders, such as depression and schizophrenia.

At any one time, 1 in 10 people in the UK suffer from depression, while post natal depression is  estimated to affect 15% of new mums. Experts think that for those without a family history of depression, taking omega 3s can reduce depression rates.

Omega-3 researcher David Mischoulon, MD, PhD, director of research in the Depression Clinical and Research Program at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital and an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, says omega 3s oils (EPA and DHA) “are thought to be active as antidepressants” in the brain.

Salmon - omega 3 oils

Salmon – omega 3 oils

So when can omega 3s be helpful?

  • depression
  • pre and post natal depression
  • menopausal depression
  • people at risk of schizophrenia
  • self harm

Safety: Omega 3 fats may help some people with mood disorders, and are safe for most people to take. However, fish oils, as supplements or in the natural form of fish, shouldn’t be used as a home remedy for mood disorders. Always see your doctor first. Do not stop your current medication without seeking your doctors advice.

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Omega 3 supplement

How much: for the general population without mood disorders, about two servings per week of oily fish is recommended, this equates to about 500mg/day (DHA & EPA).  For people with mood disorders benefits may be seen with up to 1000mg/day.

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