(NaturalPath) A recent study examined fish oils as a possible nutritional intervention for mental health disorders. Eighty-one participants were randomly assigned to the experimental group, who received poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), or the control group, who received a placebo. They were then assessed at four, eight, and twelve weeks. Later they were followed up with at six months, twelve months and seven years post treatment.
Fish oil capsules contained 700mg of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 480mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and were given daily for the 12-week time period. All participants met criteria for at least one of the risk factors for psychosis: attenuated positive psychotic symptoms, transient psychosis, and/or genetic risk, plus a decrease in functioning. Researchers used the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANNS) and the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale to assess psychiatric symptoms. The Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) score was used to measure psychosocial functioning. Psychiatric diagnoses were made using the DSM-IV-TR Axis I Disorders (SCID-I/P). Individuals were considered to have the diagnosis if they fit criteria, and it was maintained for at least one week.
Out of the 81 participants, 71 have been followed up with at the seven-year mark. This study showed that during initial follow-up, there was a reduction of risk of progression to a diagnosed psychotic disorder in the group receiving fish oils. In the experimental group, only 9.8% of the participants were considered to have a diagnosed psychotic disorder at the seven-year follow-up, whereas 40% of the control group progressed to a diagnosis.
As interventions for these types of conditions always includes a multitude of treatment options, this study highlights the importance and effectiveness of fish oil supplementation in this population. Furthermore, considering there are no major side effects reported to using fish oils, and they have other health benefits, fish oils are considered to be an important nutritional intervention for mental health disorders.
Razi Berry, Founder and Publisher of Naturopathic Doctor News & Review (ndnr.com) and NaturalPath (thenatpath.com), has spent the last decade as a natural medicine advocate and marketing whiz. She has galvanized and supported the naturopathic community, bringing a higher quality of healthcare to millions of North Americans through her publications. A self-proclaimed health-food junkie and mother of two; she loves all things nature, is obsessed with organic gardening, growing fruit trees (not easy in Phoenix), laughing until she snorts, and homeschooling. She is a little bit crunchy and yes, that is her real name.