Researchers at Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, have found omega-3 fatty acids can be effective in treating young people with distressing symptoms associated with the onset of psychosis.
The research published in Frontiers in Psychiatry, investigated how blood levels of fatty acids corresponded to the severity of symptoms and daily functioning before supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids.
Led by Dr Maximus Berger, the study found that lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids prior to treatment were associated with more severe symptoms of depression, psychosis and mania. Similarly, the balance between omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids was also related to the severity of symptoms.
“The findings of the paper indicated that omega-3s could be effective for young people who seek help for distressing psychiatric symptoms, with the largest effects seen in young people who had an increase of omega-3 in their blood levels during the study,” he said.
Dr Berger said we have known for some time that omega-3 fatty acids are important for brain health, including membrane stability and neurotransmission.
“Our findings now show us that deficits in omega-3 fatty acids are also associated with more severe symptoms in young people at ultra-high risk for psychosis.”