Vitamins and Minerals

Omega Fatty Acids For Bipolar Disorder

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What science says about Omega Fatty Acids For Bipolar Disorder

Scientists and medical experts have different opinions on the benefits of omega-3 for bipolar disorder. Some experts believe that omega-3 can regulate the imbalance of chemicals like dopamine and serotonin in the brain. It improves cell communication and regulates a person’s mood and energy levels. 

Other experts believe that omega-3 does not help treat or prevent bipolar disorder. On the contrary, they argue that omega fatty acids may cause bipolar episodes to worsen. This is because omega-3 causes the body to produce excess dopamine or serotonin instead of regulating the number of neurotransmitters in the brain.

Furthermore, the scientific evidence surrounding omega-3 and its effects on bipolar disorder is contradictory. Some research shows that omega-3 can decrease the severity of depressive and manic episodes, while other studies indicate that omega-3 may worsen a bipolar person’s mood swings.

Thus, experts call for more research to investigate the effect of omega-3 on bipolar disorder. They want to determine whether omega-3 helps treat the disease before they approve it as a course of treatment. 

Opinion in favor of taking omega-3 to treat bipolar disorder:

Supporters of omega-3 consumption for bipolar disorder believe that omega-3 plays a significant role in reducing bipolar disorder and its symptoms because it consists of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These fatty acids help treat or prevent bipolar disorder in three different ways. 

Omega-3 can regulate dopamine levels in the brain. This improves normal brain functions like sleep and attention and can help regulate episodes of mania and depression. Omega-3 also improves the cellular uptake of serotonin, which improves mood and behavior, especially during a depressive episode. It also produces anti-inflammatory molecules called eicosanoids that help maintain brain health and cell signaling processes. 

Some studies suggest that omega-3 does improve bipolar disorder. For instance, the study, “Effects of Omega-3 Supplement in the Treatment of Patient with Bipolar I Disorder,” shows that people who took omega-3 supplements had less severe manic and depressive episodes compared to those who did not take omega-3.

Another study also indicates that people with bipolar disorder have lower levels of omega-3 in their brains. It shows promising results in the treatment of bipolar disorder because omega-3 supplementation may reduce or treat bipolar disorder and its symptoms.

Erika Saunders, MD, the chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the Pennsylvania State College of Medicine, says, “We are actively pursuing the next step in this line of inquiry to get to the point where we know what changes in diets are going to help people with bipolar disorder so they can have another option beyond the medications that are currently available.”  

Opinion against taking omega-3 to treat bipolar disorder:

Many experts agree that people need small amounts of omega-3 for healthy brain function. However, they do not believe that omega-3 should be used to treat or prevent bipolar disorder.

They point to the contradictory evidence around the hypothesis that omega-3 can reduce bipolar disorder or its symptoms. Some patients report that omega-3 supplementation helped improve their bipolar disorder, while others reported no change in their symptoms at all. These “mixed results” cast doubt on omega-3’s effectiveness in treating the condition. 

Opponents of the use of omega-3 to treat bipolar disorder also argue that omega-3 may cause bipolar episodes to worsen. They maintain that omega-3 causes the body to produce excess dopamine or serotonin. 

The overproduction of neurotransmitters may be beneficial for a depressive mood episode. However, if it can improve mood and behavior that is already at an extreme high during a manic phase, it may cause the mania to worsen.

Furthermore, experts are worried about the unregulated doses of omega-3 that some bipolar patients take. Some people take up to 9,000 mg of omega-3 per day because they reported more positive results when they took higher doses of omega-3. 

Healthcare professionals caution that adults should only take doses of up to 5,000 mg of omega-3 per day. The long-term effect of doses higher than 5,000 mg is still unknown. They may affect people’s health negatively. 

Experts call for more research on omega-3 and its possible role in bipolar disorder, especially since studies show that people with bipolar disorder are deficient in omega-3. They also want to determine how omega-3 works to treat bipolar disorder and whether it is an effective form of treatment for the condition.

Published: December 2020

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