Fish Oil for Depression

Overview of fish oil, omega 3, as a natural remedy for depression and whether fish oil works for treating depression.

Overview of fish oil (omega 3) as a natural remedy for depression and whether fish oil works for treating depression.

What is fish oil (omega 3)?

Fish contain a type of oil called omega-3. Fish oil is also available in capsule form as a dietary supplement.

How does it work?

Polyunsaturated fats are important for brain function. The body uses fish oils in a person's diet to make these polyunsaturated fats.

Is it effective?

Countries with a low consumption of fish have been reported to have a higher rate of depression. Furthermore, some studies have found that depressed patients have a reduced amount of omega-3 in their blood. The reduced omega-3 could be either a cause or an effect of the depression. While these studies suggest that omega-3 may play a role in depression, no studies have directly tested whether taking fish oils helps depression. However, one study did find it helped people with bipolar disorder.

Are there any disadvantages?

None are known.

Where do you get it?

Fish oil capsules are available from supermarkets and health food shops. Eating a variety of fish 3-5 times per week will also give you a sufficient amount of omega-3.


Given the lack of scientific evidence, fish oils cannot currently be recommended for depression.

Key references

Maidment ID. Are fish oils an effective therapy in mental illness- an analysis of the data. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica 2000; 102: 3-11.

Stoll AL, Severus E, Freeman MP et al. Omega 3 fatty acids in bipolar disorder: a preliminary double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Archives of General Psychiatry 1999; 56: 407-412.


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APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, October 28). Fish Oil for Depression, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Last Updated: July 11, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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