Fish oil is a source of DHA and EPA Omega-3 polyunsaturated fats that can play an important role in treating anxiety, according to studies. Although there is still debate on the topic of fish oil’s effectiveness as an anxiety treatment, many believe that it does, in fact, help to relieve symptoms associated with the condition.
A recent study conducted at Ohio State University (OSU) indicated that medical students in the test group (those given fish oil) scored 20% lower on anxiety tests, compared to the placebo group, after taking 2.5g of fish oil per day over the course of the study. These results greatly support other research stating that fish oil is indeed an effective treatment for anxiety.
Anxiety is generally something that most people deal with at one time or another due to normal stressors in their daily lives. However, anxiety disorders are serious mental illnesses which can greatly affect a person’s ability to function normally. There are various types of anxiety disorders, which include social anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder, all of which make it difficult to conduct a normal life, if left untreated.
Fish oil is said to be beneficial in the treatment of many types of anxiety disorders, although further research still needs to be done. It is not touted as a “cure” per se, but rather as a significant factor in lessening the symptoms of both social and generalized anxiety disorders. When used in combination with other treatment methods such as cognitive behavior therapy and relaxation techniques, for example, the odds of overcoming anxiety disorders is even higher.
Since the body is unable to produce Omega-3 fatty acids on its own, fish oil must be obtained in the diet through food choices and/or dietary supplements. Food sources include fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel, along with walnuts, flaxseed and canola oil, are the safest way to incorporate fish oil into the diet. Fish oil can also be taken as a supplement. It is recommended that someone suffering from anxiety take a daily dose of 100-300 mg, but it is safe to take as much as 3g/day, according to the FDA. Purified fish oil supplements are recommended so as to avoid ingesting mercury and other undesirable impurities.
It is very important to consult a physician before beginning any regimen implementing fish oil as an anxiety treatment. There are some known risks from taking high doses of fish oil, as well as from drug interactions with other medications. Consuming more than 3g daily increases the risk for bleeding. Possible drug interactions include those with blood pressure medication, birth control pills, and weight loss aids. Those taking fish oil for anxiety may also benefit from the positive side effects such as improved cardiovascular function, preventing heart disease and as an aid in arthritis.
Fish oil, though not considered to cure anxiety, has been proven time and again to be very beneficial in the treatment of anxiety disorders that is preferable to prescribed anxiety medications due to lessened side effects.