Psychological Stress: Omega 3 - Fish Oil Found to Help - Studies are Finding
Depression has been estimated to be one of the leading causes of
disease-induced disability (1), with women having twice the risk of
experiencing depression than men (2). Studies from Canada report that
nearly 6% of women and nearly 4% of men experienced a major depressive
episode (MDE) during the previous year (3). Major depressive disorder (MDD)
is projected to be the second leading cause of disability worldwide by the
year 2020 (4). MDD patients have lower levels of physical and emotional
functioning than normal subjects (5) and contribute significantly to the
$83.1 billion depression as a whole cost society in 2000 (6).
Because depression and psychological stress can lead to other health
problems like diabetes (7), ways to help deal with psychological stress
with either prescription drugs or alternative treatments are increasingly
in demand. Now a new study (8) has found that fish oil may help with
psychological stress in pre-menopausal women.
The study involved 120 women aged 40 to 55 who were diagnosed with moderate
to severe psychological distress (PD), defined as having a Psychological
Well-Being (PGWB) (10) score of less than 72. The were given either 1500 mg
of omega-3 fatty acids per day (three 500-mg capsules) or placebo (three
500-mg capsules of soybean oil) for four weeks and then stopped
supplementation for four weeks. They completed several psychiatric exams at
weeks 0, 4 and 8 that included the Mini International Neuropsychiatric
Interview (9), the HAM-D-21 (10), and the Clinical Global Impression
Severity Scale (CGS) (11). Twenty-nine of the patients were diagnosed as
having Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).
The researchers found that significant improvements were seen in patients
without MDD. By week 8, those in the fish oil group had improvement in
HSCL-D-20, HAM-D-21, and CGS scores that were 23%, 32%%, and 31% higher,
respectively, than those in the placebo group. Those in the fish oil group
had a 34% greater increase in their Psychological Well-Being (PGWB) score
than those in the placebo group.
For the researchers, "To our knowledge, this is the first trial of n-3
supplementation in the treatment of PD and depressive symptoms in
middle-aged women. Women with PD without MDE at baseline, the 8-wk changes
in PD and depressive scales improved significantly more with E-EPA than
See All LifeSource Vitamins Omega 3 / Fish Oil Products, Articles and,
1. Murray, CJL & Lopez, AD. Alternative visions of the future:
projecting mortality and disability, 1990-2020. In: , Murray, CJL &
Lopez, AD, eds. The global burden of disease: a comprehensive assessment of
mortality and disability from diseases, injuries, and risk factors in 1990
and projected to 2020. Boston, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996, 325-97.
2. Kessler, RC. Epidemiology of women and depression. J Affect Disord 2003;74:5-13
3. Statistics Canada. Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS): mental
health and well-being. Version current 9 September 2004. Available from:
(cited October 2007)..
4. Murray, C.J. and A.D. Lopez, Global mortality, disability, and the
contribution of risk factors: Global Burden of Disease Study. Lancet, 1997. 349(9063): p. 1436-42
5. Stewart, A.L., et al., Functional status and well-being of patients with
chronic conditions. Results from the Medical Outcomes Study. Jama,
1989. 262(7): p. 907-13
6. Greenberg, P.E., et al., The economic burden of depression in the United
States: how did it change between 1990 and 2000? J Clin Psychiatry
, 2003. 64(12): p. 1465-75
7. Talbot, F. and A. Nouwen, A review of the relationship between
depression and diabetes in adults: is there a link? Diabetes Care,
2000. 23(10): p. 1556-62
8. Lucas M. Ethyl-eicosapentaenoic acid for the treatment of psychological
distress and depressive symptoms in middle-aged women: a double-blind,
placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial Am J Clin Nutr 2009
89: 641-651. First published online December 30, 2008;
9. Lecrubier, Y, Sheehan, DV, Weiller, E, et al.. The Mini International
Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI): a short diagnostic structured interview:
reliability and validity according to the CIDI. Eur Psychiatry
10. Dupuy, H. The Psychological General Well-Being (PGWB) Index. In: ,
Wenger, NK, Mattson, ME, Furber, CD et al., eds. Assessment of quality of
life in clinical trials of cardiovascular therapies. Chapter 9. New York,
NY: Le Jacq Publishing Inc, 1984:170-83.
11. Hamilton, M. Development of a rating scale for primary depressive
illness. Br J Soc Clin Psychol 1967;6:278-96.
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