Omega 3's (EPA, DHA, and alpha-linolenic acid), are essential fatty acids commonly found in salmon, sardines, anchovies, flax seeds, chia seeds, and in supplement form. Omega 3's have cardiovascular, anti-inflammatory, and neurological benefits, and they have also been used as a home remedy for depression.
Like many home remedies for psychiatric conditions, anecdotal reports, lack of scientific evidence, and poor dissemination of information have kept Omega-3's on a long list of nutrition supplements that potentially help relieve the [unfortunately] common problem that depression is. However, a recent Cochrane review, which is considered the most extensive review of scientific evidence, shows that Omega 3's, despite their other known health benefits, likely do not significantly improve depression.
In their review, Appleton & colleagues examined 26 studies, 25 of which compared Omega-3's with a placebo and 1 compared Omega-3's with antidepressants. A small but clinically insignificant benefit was seen with Omega-3's, but the quality of the evidence was deemed low/very low, concluding that more research is needed. An example of an interesting future study is: do people with inadequate Omega-3 intake with depression improve with Omega-3's, just as iron deficient women who suffer symptoms of depression may improve their depression more from iron supplementation than those who aren't deficient? With the studies that do exist, however, Omega-3's shouldn't be counted on as a supported treatment for depression.
If you've been experiencing the symptoms of depression, speak to a medical professional. Evidence supports antidepressants and talk therapy as effective treatments, but a medical professional can also help you find additional or alternative remedies, to provide an individualized treatment plan for YOU that's MOST effective.
So, what are some home remedies and strategies that have been proven beneficial for depression?
1. Exercise. Exercise releases endorphins--one of the best natural antidepressants! Exercise also increases norepinephrine production, lowers blood pressure, and can improve self-confidence. As a behavioral activation strategy, movement in exercise even when you don't feel motivated can be an important mood lifter and help you stay in remission...not to mention exercise's countless other health benefits!
2. Get adequate sleep. Poor sleep is very common in depression, with insomnia sometimes being one of the first symptoms of a major depression episode. If you have depression, don't discount the importance of adequate sleep; prioritize sleep in your schedule, and try following these helpful sleep hygiene strategies.
3. Be routinely social. You may not feel like socializing, and your regular routine may seem overwhelming. But it's important to schedule socializing with other people, who will encourage your or at the very least be a distraction for you. Remember that, if nothing seems fun, that's just a symptom of depression. Depression is isolating; socializing can help stop and reverse the downward spiral.
It's important to know that appetite and nutrition intake can be significantly harmed during depression. For nutrition consultation, please connect with me, and together we can help you feel like the best YOU again.