Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Depression
Bipolar disorder and unipolar depression are serious debilitating psychiatric conditions. Bipolar depression is particularly difficult to treat, since treatment often pushes the patient into a manic episode. Bipolar depression carries a 19% suicide rate and bipolar patients have only a 50% chance of returning to normal functioning.
In the past fifty years there has been about a 20 fold increase in a number of cases of depressive disorders. 5% of people in the United States will have at least one episode of serious depression this year. While most medical research focuses on pharmacological treatment, there is a growing body of evidence that nutrition in general, and omega-3 fatty acids in particular may be of great benefit to numerous people.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are long-chain, polyunsaturated fatty acids, which must be obtained through the diet. Long chain omega-3 fatty acids, like eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can be ingested directly from foods such as fish or fish oil. Alternately, they can be manufactured in the liver from alpha linolenic acid (ALA), a shorter omega-3 fatty acid. This conversion is limited. Only 5