Fish Oil for Bipolars?
 

Oh Lord, I thought, when I read that statement and my memory instantly took me back 40-plus years. Back to the horrid memory of cod liver oil, first as a liquid and later as a capsule, and my face screws up in distaste and my mouth fills with sour bile at the recollection. Cod liver oil…vitamin D…"the sunshine vitamin" was without doubt necessary for children living in the northern climate where it was unusual to see sunshine between the months of October and April. For my siblings and I it was something to avoid at all costs and a struggle every day. This brings me to a recent article titled Omega 3 Fatty Acids in Bipolar Disorder.  It is a summary of a recent study to assess the mood stabilizing effect of omega 3 fatty acids on patients with unstable bipolar disorder.

Omega 3 fatty acids are obtained from marine and plant life - in this study menhaden fish body oil was used to manufacture the capsules for the patients who received it. The patients who received placebo were given identical capsules of olive oil ethyl esters.

Patients participating in this study were all diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder, were required to have had one or more manic or hypomanic episodes within the last year and allowed to continue with their current prescribed medications and treatment (therapy). Forty percent of the patients within the study were defined as rapid cyclers (4 or more episodes in past year).

Some reported side effects, most commonly of gastrointestinal nature, characterized by loose stools. 62% of patients receiving omega 3 treatment experienced this side effect and 53% of olive oil treated patients reported the same effects. A distinct "fishy" aftertaste was reported by members of both groups, though far more often in the omega 3 group.

Overall, the patients tolerated the study well. None were hospitalized or developed marked suicidal ideation or behavior.

Omega 3 Fatty acids used as an adjunctive treatment in bipolar disorder resulted in significant symptom reduction and a better outcome when compared with placebo in this study. There was a significant difference in relapse rates and response. Much work still needs to be done, but this study is a promising beginning for individuals with bipolar disorder.

As time goes on research continues to shed new light on an old disease. I endorse the idea that in time we will have treatment for bipolar disorder that is much more effective than the treatment of today. Based on my own experiences over the past twenty years there have already been many changes, and many more to come.

More articles on this topic are available!

 Fatty Acids

 Fish Oil

 TMC News
 

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