Depression Statistics and Symptoms
Researchers are unsure of the exact cause of depression. It is thought to be due to a chemical imbalance in your brain as a result of a combination of genetic and environmental (such as stress or trauma) factors. Many of those who suffer from depression are also prone to have anxiety attacks as well. The illness also weakens the immune system and makes one susceptible to physical disorders.
The following factors is thought to play a role in the development of depression:
-alcohol or drug abuse
-certain medical conditions
-stressful life events
Nealy 13 million people experience a depressive disorder with only 20% of those seeking adequate treatment. In the United States, nearly 16% of the population or 35 million Americans suffer from severe depression.
Omega 3 Fatty Acid
Omega 3 fatty acid is called an essential polyunsaturated fatty acid. It is ‘essential’ because it is not synthesized in our body and must be obtained through diet and supplementation. Omega 3 can commonly be found in foods such as fish, flax seed, and some nuts. Unfortunately, in recent decades our diets have moved away from omega 3 rich foods. The ratio of fats from fish and wild plants compared to those from animals and vegetable oil sources has gone from 1:1 to something like 1:10.
Omega 3 fatty acid plays a very important role in brain health. The result of not having enough omega 3 in our diet may have led to the sharp rise in the rates of depression in recent decades.
Omega 3 for Depression
The fact that populations that eat more fish per capita - Japan (147 pounds a year), Iceland (225 pounds per year) - have low rates of season affective disorder (SAD) make omega 3 fatty acids a strong choice as an alternative or supplemental treatment for depression. Omega 3 has been shown in studies to be effective for people with mild depression. It uses a mechanism of action different from antidepressants, which means utilizing both treatments fights depression on two fronts.
How much omega 3 is effective to fight depression? Researchers have shown that 1 to 2 grams a day of supplements led to a measurable reduction in major depression. It has also been revealed that women who develop postpartum depression tend to have an omega 3 deficiency. This is important to note because antidepressants can be harmful to the fetus and child (through breast-feeding). Omega 3 may provide a safe alternative to such treatment.
Omega 3 for depression is still a relatively new idea. It does not have the same extensive studies of other treatments, but looks to be very promising as a natural alternative.