A team of scientists in Australia have discovered that pills made from the shiny amber oil of fish have the ability to prevent the development of psychosis among at-risk teenagers.
In a study featured in the Nature Communications journal, University of Melbourne researcher G. Paul Amminger and his colleagues studied the potential effects of the fatty acid omega-3 derived from fish oil on a group of individuals, between the ages of 12 to 25 years old, who have been identified to be susceptible to developing the mental condition known as psychosis.
The researchers have previously conducted a clinical trial for 12 weeks using the fats on the same group of youngsters and followed them for an entire year. In this earlier research, the findings showed promise as five percent of those included in the omega-3 group eventually developed symptoms of psychotic disorder while 27.5 percent of the members of the placebo group went on to develop the same condition.
For this recent research, Amminger and his team followed the participants on a seven-year median. Among the young people included in the 12-week experiment, 41 of them received a daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids, while 40 received a placebo treatment.
The results were more pronounced after several years wherein the researchers found that only 10 percent of participants who received omega-3 later developed schizophrenia or other related conditions while 40 percent of those in the placebo crowd went on to do so.
"This is an amazing finding and we were surprised that the effect at the long-term follow-up was exceeding the results at 12 months," Amminger said.
"This indicates that some cases of psychosis were truly prevented in the omega-3 group."
The researchers also studied the potential effects of fish oil on other conditions related to mental health such as anxiety and mood disorders. Regarding these mental conditions, participants featured in the fish oil group did not show any significant differences from those in the placebo group.
Young people in the treatment group demonstrated symptoms of different anxiety disorder types. They were also found to be less frequent users of Cannabis and no member suffered from any eating disorders.
Overall, only 53 percent of participants in the fish oil group met the criteria for mental health disorder compared to the 83 percent of those included in the placebo group.
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