Depression: Pregnancy and Omega-3's

A new study found treating depressed pregnant women with omega-3 fatty acids helped reduce symptoms. Michelle Rizzo of Reuters reports:
"Perinatal depression is common, and treatment remains challenging," Dr. Kuan-Pin Su, of China Medical University Hospital, Taiwan, and colleagues explain in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

When a pregnant woman needs to be treated for major depression, "the possible risks and benefits of antidepressant medication are considered to have significant impacts on both mother and baby," Su commented to Reuters Health. "Many women and their health care providers prefer the use of non-medication treatments," Su added.

"Depression has been reported to be associated with the abnormality of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs)," the team notes in their article. They propose that the requirements of the growing baby lead to "a profound decrease of omega-3 PUFAs in the mother during pregnancy," and this might "precipitate the occurrence of depression."

To see if omega-3 supplements would help, the researchers assigned 36 pregnant women with depression to take 3.4 grams of omega-3 PUFAs or an inactive placebo daily for eight weeks.
Omegas are wonderful nutrients. Not only can they help with mood disorders, but they’re great for your ticker too. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
Compared to the American population, those eating this way in the Mediterranean region exhibit a lower risk of heart disease and common cancers. Heart attack rates are 25 percent lower, and the rate of obesity is about half of America’s. The climate and fertile soil allow for many high nutrient plants to grow, which makes most of the dishes rich in phytochemicals. That, in turn, accounts for the diet’s protective effects. Nuts, particularly walnuts, are commonly used in the diet and they are a good source of omega-3 fats and other heart protective nutrients. The use of fish instead of meat also decreases saturated fat consumption and increases these beneficial fats. For these reasons, it is understandable why the Mediterranean diet is considered healthier than the SAD, but it is not without drawbacks. Studying its beneficial health outcomes—along with those of diets in other areas of the world such as Japan, rural China, Fiji, and Tibet— allows us to use the Mediterranean diet’s culinary principals to make a diet deliciously varied and even more disease protective, while avoiding its problems.
Seeds are another awesome source of healthy fats. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
Over the last few years, the health benefits of seeds also have become more apparent. A tablespoon of ground flaxseed, hempseeds, chia seeds, or other seeds can supply those hard-to find omega-3 fats that protect against diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.1 Seeds are also rich in lignans, a type of fiber associated with a reduced risk of both breast cancer and prostate cancer. In addition, seeds are a good source of iron, zinc, calcium, protein, potassium, magnesium, Vitamin E, and folate. The plant goes to great effort in producing and protecting its seed, filling each genetic package with high concentrations of vitamins, minerals, proteins, essential oils, and enzymes.
For more on depression and how to treat it without medication, check out: Treating Depression Naturally.
1. Simopoulos AP. Essential fatty acids in health and chronic disease. Am J Clin
Nutr. 1999;70 (3):56S-69S.
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