Halting Psychosis With Fish Oil Supplements
At least nine years ago I reported on a study that indicated taking fish oil
supplements can halt psychosis in individuals at risk of having a full-blown
episode. Now a current study confirms that participants who took a 12-week
course of Omega-3 fatty acid supplements were much less likely than those who
did not take the Omega-3 to develop full-blown psychosis.
Eighty-one young people in Vienna participated in the study. Forty-one took a daily dose of fish oil with 700 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 400 mg of
docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Forty study members took a daily placebo capsule.
Of the particpants taking the placebo, 40 percent experienced a full-blown
episode later. Of those taking the Omega-3, just under 10 percent developed
a psychiatric disorder. Fifty-four percent of the placebo participants were found on follow-up to be on prescription antipsychotics. Twenty-nine percent of those in the Omega-3 camp had psychiatric medication prescribed.
My take on these findings:
In the fall of 1987 I had a sudden and quick break.
Exactly one year earlier in the fall of 1986 I sought help on my own because I
intuited that something wasn’t right. I talked with a woman at the student life office on campus and didn’t click with her so stopped going after two sessions.
I had no idea that what was happening would evolve into a full-blown episode.
No prodromal treatment existed when I sought help in 1986 on my own.
Mental illness was still hush-hush. Back then there was no talk of having a person get any kind of treatment like fish oil. I immersed myself in my career as a disc jockey on the college radio station instead.
Criteria now exist for diagnosing a teen at risk for psychosis.
Dr. Thomas Insel of NIMH called these young people “basement kids” who retreat
to a room playing video games. They might hear transient voices that come and go.
A lot of us become “school heads” to cope with the emotional and mental challengee face.
We throw ourselves into our studies and often excel academically, as did
Carolyn Dobbins, PhD who I profiled here years ago. She told me she managed to graduate college even though her symptoms were raging full-on and she hadn’t gotten treatment until later.
Taking Omega-3 gel caps turned my life around in 2003.
As soon as I started taking the fish oil for my heart, my seasonal affective disorder stopped. In September I’ll detail schizophrenia, depression, and SAD information.
This summer when I ran out of the Omega-3 and didn’t replace it for five weeks my low mood returned. Going without the fish oil was a mistake for me. The
pharmacy technician told me the Omega-3 would calm me and did have benefits
so I quickly bought a bottle.
Two takeaways about using Omega-3 fish oil supplements:
Side effects of the gel caps might not be troubling and are thought not to be risky to one’s health.
Teens with a family history of schizophrenia or bipolar might do well to start taking Omega-3 as a simple overall positive health strategy. Parents can consult with their kids’ primary care doctors to evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of doing this.
Christina Bruni wrote about schizophrenia for HealthCentral as a Patient Expert. She is a mental health activist and freelance journalist.