People with hepatitis C are more likely to become depressed. And it’s not just because they have a contagious liver disease. Often, the treatment given to patients induces depression as a side effect. A new study suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may help fight depression in populations like this one, with a high risk of depression due to inflammation.
A group of international researchers conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study to evaluate the effects of omega-3s on inflammation-induced depression. They studied 152 hepatitis C patients. Some received omega-3s while others received a placebo. After two weeks of treatment, they received a 24-week course of interferon-alpha treatment and were evaluated repeatedly for depression.
They found that the EPA decreased the incidence of depression, and that that EPA and DHA delayed the onset of depression. Neither had serious side effects.
"The study shows that even a short course (two weeks) of a nutritional supplement containing one such omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (EPA) reduced the rates of new-onset depression to 10 percent,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Carmine Pariante, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London, in a release.
"These new data provide promising support for omega-3 fatty acids to prevent depression, complementing other studies where omega-3's were found to enhance antidepressant treatment," Dr. John Krystal, editor of Biological Psychiatry, said in the release.
Previous research has suggested omega-3s are a powerful defense against depression even among healthy people.
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