Research led by the psychiatrist Joseph Hibbeln shows that rates of depression are much lower in countries where there is a high consumption of fish, such as Japan. This is due to the omega-3 fatty acids found in certain seafoods and fish.
Based on these results, scientists at Harvard University began a study to see if omega-3 could be used to prevent or treat depression and other mental disorders. “Two omega-3 fatty acids — eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) — are thought to have the most potential to benefit people with mood disorders,” explains Dr. David Mischoulon on the university’s webpage.
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These types of acids, Mischoulon adds, travel easily through brain cells to interact with the molecules related to mood. However, he clarifies that these acids are not a guaranteed treatment. “Analyses generally suggest that the omega-3s are effective, but the findings are not unanimous because of variability between doses.”
In other words, in the right doses, they serve as a natural treatment, “…but we need more research about how they work, how effective they really are, and their long-term safety before we can make conclusive recommendations,” the study concludes.