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LMU 93 – Unlocking Mental Wellness: The Omega-3 Connection to Depression and PTSD


LMU 93 – Unlocking Mental Wellness: The Omega-3 Connection to Depression and PTSD

Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2008); Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry (2008); Journal of Affective Disorder (2016 and 2017)

Lifestyle Medicine Update (June 29, 2018)


In the realm of mental health, a remarkable revelation has emerged over the past few years – the potent influence of omega-3 fatty acids on conditions like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and psychosis. As we delve into this update, a panorama of enlightening studies awaits, shedding light on the profound impact of omega-3 fats on depression and PTSD.

EPA: A Key Player in Mental Wellbeing

Our journey begins with a seminal study published in 2008 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which thrust the spotlight on a specific omega-3 fatty acid: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). The study, encompassing nearly 1400 older participants with a mean age of 74.6 years, utilized a standard depression index scale. With depression affecting 8-16% of older adults, often underdiagnosed and undertreated, the findings were eye-opening. Lower blood levels of EPA were associated with higher depression rates, underscoring the potential role of EPA in mental wellness. EPA, renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties and enhancement of brain cell function, holds promise as a shield against the grip of depression, especially in aging brains. (1)

Omega-3s vs. Depression: A Powerful Partnership

A subsequent pivotal study, featured in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry in 2007, presented a head-to-head comparison between EPA and a widely known antidepressant, Fluoxetine (Prozac). In a cohort of 60 patients with major depression, those treated with EPA (1000 mg/d), Fluoxetine (20 mg/d), or a combination of both over 8 weeks, yielded intriguing results. Notably, the EPA group exhibited equivalent treatment benefits to the Fluoxetine group. However, the most promising outcomes were observed in the combination therapy group, boasting an impressive 81% response rate – a significant enhancement over the individual therapy groups’ 50% response rate. (2)

Unveiling Hope for PTSD

The omega-3 narrative extends to the realm of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with a breakthrough study in 2016 highlighting the significance of EPA and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Involving 110 PTSD patients grappling with persistent symptoms following conventional treatment, this study illuminated a path to relief. The provision of an omega-3 fat supplement enriched with EPA and DHA was associated with a reduction in PTSD symptom severity, offering renewed hope for those affected. (3)

Taming the Heart and Mind: A Dual Approach to PTSD

A year later, in 2017, yet another exploration into the realm of PTSD revealed a fascinating interplay between omega-3 fats and physiological symptoms. Involving 83 PTSD patients, this study centered on the administration of EPA (147 mg) and DHA (1470 mg) per day for 12 weeks. The results were astonishing – a key physiological PTSD symptom, elevated heart rate, experienced relief. Patients with elevated red blood cell EPA levels witnessed a significant reduction in their pounding heart rates, potentially paving the way for a holistic approach to PTSD management. (4)

A Transformative Path Forward

In the pursuit of mental wellness, the evidence resoundingly underscores the pivotal role of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA. Integrating omega-3 supplementation into the complementary management of depression and PTSD offers a pathway to improved outcomes. As we age, fortifying brain levels of omega-3s through supplementation could potentially stave off depression, a prevalent concern among older individuals. The risks associated with omega-3 supplementation are minimal, barring potential interactions with anticoagulant medications, which should be addressed under medical guidance.


The narrative of mental health takes an exciting turn with the unveiling of omega-3 fatty acids as protagonists in the battle against depression and PTSD. Through studies that highlight the impact of EPA, both singularly and in combination with conventional treatments, a realm of possibilities emerges. Omega-3 supplementation stands as a beacon of hope, promising to enhance mental wellness, ease symptoms, and potentially prevent the onset of debilitating conditions. As science continues to illuminate the omega-3 saga, individuals are empowered to embark on a journey towards mental resilience and a brighter tomorrow.


  1. 2008 Study: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Depression)
    [Link] (
  2. 2008 Study: Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry (Depression)
    [Link] (
  3. 2016 Study: Journal of Affective Disorders (PTSD)
    [Link] (
  4. 2017 Study: Journal of Affective Disorders (PTSD)
    [Link] (

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Dr. Meschino

Dr. James Meschino


Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.

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