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Depression with mild inflammation was better with omega-3 –

Depression with mild inflammation was better with omega-3 –

Depression can have many causes. Studies have shown that some people with depression, but not all, have elevated inflammatory markers.

Inflammation that usually goes unnoticed

Researchers from Lund University sought an answer to a specific question: Can omega-3 fatty acids, which are high in EPA, eicosapentaenoic acid, help treat depression if a depressed person also has inflammation in the body? In this case, researchers point to what's called chronic low-grade inflammation, which you often don't even feel yourself.

– The exact cause of low-grade inflammation is not clear, but there are many factors that can affect it, for example comorbidity, for example, rheumatism, obesity, immobility, smoking and unilateral dieting, says Clara Sonesson, He recently obtained a doctorate in psychiatry from Lund University and is a psychiatrist in the Skane area.

Not all people with depression function the same way

Historically, researchers have often compared people with depression to people without depression, says Clara Suneson. But there are also reasons to compare different groups of people with depression, because depressed people are a mixed group of people.

-Someone is completely on sick leave, and someone else works full time and drives the kids to soccer practice. Not everyone gets sick for the same reason and therefore does not respond in the same way to medical treatment. For this reason, it is also very important to identify biological markers, such as inflammation, says Clara Sunesson.

Given the prevalence of the depression group, there is reason to believe that different treatments work for different patients, researchers say.

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All of them received a high dose of nutritional supplements

In their new study, 101 patients were divided into several different analysis groups based on the degree of inflammation in the body. In order to participate in the study, participants were required to have tried antidepressants for at least six weeks without assistance.

There was no placebo group, so even participants without inflammation were allowed to take omega-3 for eight weeks. The dose was relatively high, two grams of EPA per day. This can be compared to the recommended daily dose in boxes of Omega-3 capsules, which is only one gram. The EPA dose was given in addition to the usual antidepressant treatment.

A clear improvement in well-being

In the group with the highest levels of inflammation, no improvement was seen with omega-3 supplements. But for the group with low inflammation, the difference was clear, says Clara Soneson.

– We saw a significant improvement, both when we conducted a specialized assessment based on 17 questions related to depression, and when the participants themselves had to evaluate their health regarding, for example, fatigue and sleep problems.

The new findings counterbalance some previous research findings when omega-3 did not appear to have an effect on depression — but when the inflammation pathway was not specifically investigated.

Several questions need answers

Now researchers face new questions that require further research: For those who responded well to omega-3s – will their depression return if they stop taking the supplements? Can the feeling get better after a longer period of time? Eight weeks, as in the study, is a fairly short period.

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If the dose were increased further, could omega-3 also help people with a high degree of inflammation? We will see if we or other researchers will investigate this further, says Daniel Lindqvist.

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Scientific material:

Omega-3 fatty acids for refractory depression – a congruence/mismatch study, Brain behavior and immunity


Clara Sunesson, a recent doctorate in psychiatry from Lund University, is a psychiatrist in the Skåne region
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