Doctors and researchers alike know that certain drugs substantially increase your risk for depression. The reason is that these drugs cause inflammation. And inflammation is a common cause of depression. What few doctors will tell you, though, is that it's not that hard to avoid both the inflammation and the depression.
As you may know, I'm not a fan of drugs. But they can help certain conditions. They even save lives. In many cases, people don't have the option to stop taking the drugs. Interferon for hepatitis C is one of these drugs. Fortunately, they're not destined to endure severe depression.
A recent study found that taking omega-3 fatty acids for just a couple of weeks can protect you from depression for months. These researchers had conducted prior studies showing that lower levels of omega-3 eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in their blood were significantly more likely to develop depression. They also knew that this component of fish oil also protects against heart disease and brain diseases.
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But in this study, they wanted to see if the protection EPA offers the brain extends to depression. So they conducted a double-blind study by randomly assigning 153 hepatitis C patients to take either a placebo, EPA, or omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) for two weeks. After the two weeks were over, they gave all of the patients a six-month course of interferon-alpha treatment. They screened all of the patients regularly for depression.
The researchers found that the EPA treatment reduced the subsequent rate of depression. But the DHA and the placebo did not. They also found that those who did become depressed experienced a later onset of the condition if they had taken the EPA or DHA treatment previously.
Dr. John Krystal, one of the researchers, said, "These new data provide promising support for omega-3 fatty acids to prevent depression, complementing other studies where omega-3's were found to enhance antidepressant treatment."
This isn't the first study to suggest that fish oil can help with depression and other forms of mental illness. It's the first to suggest that the mechanism is through its anti-inflammatory abilities, which makes a lot of sense. We already know that's one of the mechanisms that makes fish oil good for your heart.
What I'm really excited about, though, is the discovery that taking it for a while offers protection for months. That means that you can go on vacation and not worry about taking your fish oil if you want to. And if you forget to take it — or run out before the next bottle arrives — you're not risking significant damage. It also means that if you're taking drugs that are pro-inflammatory, you can take fish oil and help avoid the damage those drugs cause.
So make sure you're taking fish oil. I prefer to take it along with the parent essential oils in Complete Daily Oils.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening is the editor of Nutrient Insider, a twice-a-week email newsletter that brings you the latest healing breakthroughs from the world of nutrition and dietary supplements. For over 20 years, Steve has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Robert Rowen, Frank Shallenberger, Nan Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.