Teens at high risk of mental disorders may get some relief of their symptoms by taking fish oil tablets. According to a new study out of the University of Vienna, Austria, twelve weeks of fish oil pills has been shown to make teens at risk of psychosis less likely to become psychotic for at least one year.
The words psychosis and psychotic are broad terms that can actually mean anything relating to abnormal behavior, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and paranoia. These types of behaviors usually make social interaction difficult and they impair the ability to carry out normal everyday activities.
A clinical trial in Austria enrolled 81 young people, with an average age of 16, who were â€œon the brink of psychosis.â€ The study appears in the February 2011 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.
Forty of the teens were given a placebo, and they went on to develop a psychotic disorder. The other forty-one were given fish oil capsules rich in omega-3 fatty acids daily for a period of 12 weeks. Out of this group, only two of the teens receiving the fish oil developed any psychosis, and did not show any development up to a year later.
There have been no other interventions, including psychiatric drugs that have achieved this kind of results for so long a period after treatment has stopped. In addition, drugs that have been used to treat anti-psychotic behavior tend to have serious side effects, including gaining weight and sexual dysfunction, whereas fish oil pill have no serious side effects.
According to researcher G. Paul Amminger, M.D. from the University of Vienna, the study suggests that in order to prevent one case of psychosis, four high-risk young people must be treated.
â€œThe finding that treatment with a natural substance may prevent or at least delay the onset of psychotic disorder gives hope that there may be alternatives to anti-psychotics for the prodromal phase [symptoms leading up to psychosis onset],â€ Amminger and colleagues suggest. The prodromal phase is when a set of symptoms start to surface that would indicate the start of a disease.
Previous studies have indicated the addition of omega3 fatty acids into the diet may relieve the symptoms of clinical depression and other psychotic disorders, but the results have not been definitive, the results have been mixed.
There has been no clear answer as to whether taking fish oil capsules will help those with already established psychosis. The teens in the Amminger study did not have full-blown psychosis at the time of the testing. It also is not clear as to how fish oil might prevent psychiatric disorders.
Researchers in the study have noted that those suffering from schizophrenia tend to have low levels of omega3 fatty acids in their bloodstream. To them it would suggest that the deficit in could be a link to the disorder. Fatty acids have been shown to interact with chemical signaling in the brain.
Amminger and his colleagues caution against believing that their findings are definitive. They still need to find out if the fish oil works better in teens with pre-psychotic symptoms than in older people who have been diagnosed with mental disorders.
About the author:
Ron White is a two-time USA Memory Champion and memoryÂ expert. As a memory speaker he travels the world to speak before large groups or small company seminars, demonstrating his memory skills and teaching others how to improve their memory, and how important a good memory is in all phases of your life.
WebMD â€“ Fish Oil May Fight Psychosis: http://www.webmd.com/schizophrenia/news/20100201/fish-oil-vs-psychosis
Wikipedia â€“ Prodrome: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prodrome