Omega-3 fatty acids are essential because they build healthy cells and protect the body from cardiovascular diseases, several brain illnesses and diabetes. These fatty acids are often found in seafood, tuna, seeds and nuts. Over-the-counter supplements with omega-3 fatty acids are popular all over the world along with supplements such as garlic, ginseng and green tea.
Studies in the past have looked into the role of omega-3 fatty acids in treating major depressive disorders. People who are diagnosed with major depressive disorders often experience a lack of pleasure in activities they previously enjoyed after two weeks. It is also characterized by a depressed mood. All of these are considered signs of major depressive disorders especially if there are no physical causes.
Some experts believe that omega-3 fatty acids can contribute to the treatment of major depressive disorders.
However, a recent study in the United Kingdom revealed that omega-3 fatty acid supplements may not be effective in treating depression.
In a report published in the Cochrane Library, researchers from Bournemouth University studied data from 26 randomized trials that involved 1,458 participants. In one trial that involved 40 respondents, researchers tested whether omega-3 fatty acid supplements were more effective than anti-depressants.
People who were given omega-3 fatty acid supplements reported lower symptom scores compared to those who were given the dummy pill, researchers said. Still, the effect was small and several essential limitations challenged the authors' confidence in the results. The size of this effect is unlikely to be meaningful to people with depression, researchers said.
"At present, we just do not have enough high quality evidence to determine the effects of omega 3 fatty acids as a treatment for major depressive disorder," said Katherine Appleton, lead author of the study.
Appleton said that people with major depressive disorders should be aware of the findings so they can make informed and better choices for their treatment.
She added that other studies that had direct relevance to their report were of small and low quality.
Meanwhile, data from the World Health Organization suggest that major depressive disorders account for three percent of global ill health, and the number may increase to six or seven percent within 2030.