Depression can be among the most difficult illnesses to treat.
The first-line medications are drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac, Zoloft, and Lexapro. They are supposed to lift mood by increasing levels of serotonin, the “feel-good” compound, in the brain.
But SSRIs can take months to work, if they work at all. Or patients may have to spend years switching from one drug to another, trying to find the one that is effective for them.
All the while they may suffer from debilitating dark moods that make them unable to work or enjoy life.
Even if a patient finds an SSRI that eases their depression, the side effects can make it a mixed blessing. They include weight gain, sexual dysfunction, drowsiness, and headaches.
Now, a new lab study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry shows that a natural supplement may relieve depression as effectively as SSRIs, but without side effects.
Researchers tested fish oil on glial cells from depression patients. These are cells that surround neurons in the brain. There is increasing evidence that glial cells play an important role in depression 
A 2018 study published in the journal Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience concluded that people with depression have glial cell abnormalities.
The new research found that fish oil reduces those abnormalities. The response was seen even in cells from people for whom standard treatment with SSRIs doesn’t work.
Dr. Mark Rasenick was the study’s principal investigator. He said it was “exciting to find scientific evidence that fish oil—an easy-to-get, natural product—may be an effective treatment for depression.”
The study confirms an analysis published by University of Illinois researchers in 2017. It concluded that “fish oil supplementation is beneficial in the treatment of depression.”
What to Look for in a Quality Fish Oil Supplement
Fish oil is one of America’s biggest-selling natural supplements. Most people take it because of its heart health benefits.
The new research showing it eases depression promises to make it more popular than ever. Depression is the most common psychiatric disorder. One in six people will have a depressive episode at some point in their lives. For more than a third of them, antidepressant drugs don’t work at all.
But when buying fish oil, it’s important to know the difference between high-quality brands and cheaper ones that won’t be as effective.
Most fish oils are made with a cheap, fast manufacturing process that yields something called an ethyl ester (EE). This kind of fish oil is less bioavailable. Labels of EE fish oil often say the product is derived from “marine oil concentrate.”
Instead, look for brands that contain the triglyceride form of fish oil. It should be noted on the label.
A high-quality fish oil will also be relatively free of any fishy tastes or smells. And it should be translucent and free of cloudiness.
You’re more likely to find quality fish oil supplements at health food stores and online than at drug stores and supermarkets.
According to the European Food Safety Authority, omega-3 supplements can be safely consumed at doses up to 5,000 mg daily.
But if you’re on a blood-thinning medication, check with your doctor before taking fish oil.
Big Pharma would like you to think that SSRIs are your only hope for fighting depression. Fish oil is another instance of a natural supplement providing a better, safer solution.
Editor’s Note: Unlike much of the mainstream media, we don’t accept advertising from Big Pharma. That’s why you can count on us for unbiased medical information. Our only motivation is your good health.
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