Omega 3s For Relieving the Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression

Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for brain health. They are an integral part of our brain cells and help to control inflammation in the brain. Learn how they work and how to take them for alleviating anxiety and depression.

What are Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety is something that we all experience from time to time. Usually we feel anxious due to some external stressor, such as work issues, relationship troubles, or simply feeling burned out. When anxiety becomes excessive and negatively affects the quality of your life, you are suffering from an anxiety disorder. There are many anxiety disorders, including GAD (generalized anxiety disorder), health anxiety, social phobia, obsessive compulsive disorder, and more.

Depression is another common mental health disorder. It might be triggered by a major life event, such as a significant loss, or it might come up suddenly, with no apparent reason. People suffering from depression experience feelings of sadness and hopelessness, which cause them significant distress. Their interest in things that used to bring them joy is diminished and even keeping up with every day tasks presents a challenge.

How Do Omega 3 Fats Influence Our Body and Brain?

Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for our health. They are needed for the normal functioning of our body, including our nervous and immune system. They contribute to healthy heart and act anti-inflammatory in our body.

There are 2 major types of biologically active Omega 3 fats: EPA and DHA. DHA is an important integral part of our brain – DHA is included in the cell membranes of our neurons. It makes the cell membranes more fluid and enables the signals to travel faster and more fluidly between the cells in our brain.

EPA, on the other hand, is well-known for its anti-inflammatory effect. Since dietary EPA is able to cross the blood-brain barrier, it can also lower inflammation in the brain.

Omega 3 fatty acids for Anxiety, Depression, and Mood Disorders

Numerous studies have shown that there is a link between anxiety, depression and low blood levels of Omega 3 fats. Empirical facts support these findings as we see much lower rates of depression and anxiety in countries where fish consumption is high.

Brain cell membranes are made partly of Omega 3 fats (particularly DHA). If Omega 3s decrease in the body and the brain, it makes it harder for serotonin – which is a chemical that transmits messages from one neuron to the other – to pass through cell membranes.

Studies have shown that supplementing with Omega 3 fatty improves the symptoms of both anxiety and depression. EPA, especially, has been found to decrease neuro- inflammation and relieves the symptoms that go with it. At the same time, the levels of pro-inflammatory substances are decreased throughout the body, thereby contributing to better health in general.

Unlike DHA, the lifetime of EPA in the brain is very limited. This means that we need constant supply of EPA to control brain inflammation.

Studies have also shown that Omega 3 supplementation makes people more resilient to stress and better able to regulate their mood.

Effective Omega 3 Dosage For Anxiety and Depression

Different doses have been used in studies regarding Omega 3s and their link to depression and anxiety. American Psychiatry Association recommends that the dose for relieving the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and mood disorders should be between 1 g and 3 g per day of combined EPA and DHA.

Whatever dose you use, EPA should represent about 60% of the total Omega 3 intake. Most of the studies have found that EPA supplementation has more beneficial effects on mental health disorders than DHA supplementation.

DHA is, of course, still valuable. It helps keep your heart healthy and contributes to the functioning of your immune system. American Heart Association recommends that you get at least 250 mgs of DHA per day, so keep that in mind when choosing your supplement.

Always start at the lower end of the recommended dose. This would mean starting with 1000 mg of EPA and DHA combined. Look for the supplements that are high in EPA (at least 60% of Omega 3 fats in the supplement should be EPA).  Keep a diary of your symptoms and increase the dose every few weeks if needed.

You should not exceed 3 grams per day to minimize the risk of side effects.

You Might Also Want to Know

How to Take Omega 3 Supplements

When you are starting out with Omega 3 supplement, you need to know about the possible side effects of Omega 3 supplementation. Article also discusses interactions that Omega 3 fatty acids have with common prescription medications and other supplements.

Which Fish oil Supplement to Buy?

Here you will find an overview of main Omega 3 fish oil supplements and their manufacturers. You will also see a side by side comparison of normal and ultra strength Omega 3 supplements. You will learn the pros and cons of different supplements, so you'll be able to decide which one might be best for you.

Health Benefits of Omega 3 Fatty Acids

You might be taking Omega 3 for anxiety or depression. But as an extra bonus, these supplements provide many benefits for your overall health. Find out how Omega 3 will help you keep your heart and brain healthy and lower inflammation throughout the body.

Sources and References: 
  1. Fish oil to treat depression.
  2. Omega-3 fatty acids may prevent some forms of depression.
  3. Anxiety and Omega 3 fatty acids.
  4. Is there any benefit to taking fish oil supplements for depression? Mayo Clinic.
  5. Omega 3 reduces anxiety and inflammation in healthy students.
  6. Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Mood Disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry.
  7. Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Major Depressive Disorder. Marlene P. Freeman, MD.
  1. Nutritional omega-3 modulates neuronal morphology in the prefrontal cortex along with depression-related behaviour through corticosterone secretion.  T Larrieu, L M Hilal, C Fourrier, V De Smedt-Peyrusse,  Sans N, L Capuron, and S Layél. Published September 2014. Universite de Bordeaux, INRA, Nutrition et Neurobiologie Intégrée, UMR 1286, Bordeaux, France, Universite de Bordeaux, Nutrition et Neurobiologie intégrée, UMR 1286, Bordeaux, France, INSERM, Neurocentre Magendie, UMR 862, Bordeaux, France.
  2. Omega-3 supplementation lowers inflammation and anxiety in medical students: a randomized controlled trial. Kiecolt-Glaser JK1, Belury MA, Andridge R, Malarkey WB, Glaser R. Brain, Begavior, Immunity, November 2011. Full article at:
  3. Cognitive and physiological effects of Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation in healthy subjects.  Fontani G1, Corradeschi F, Felici A, Alfatti F, Migliorini S, Lodi L. European Journal of Clinical Investigation. Nov. 2005.
  4. Rapid beta-oxidation of eicosapentaenoic acid in mouse brain: an in situ study. Chen CT1, Liu Z, Ouellet M, Calon F, Bazinet RP. Feb-Mar 2009.
  5. Omega-3 fatty acids in depression: a review of three studies. Osher Y1, Belmaker RH. 2009.
  6. The efficacy of omega-3 supplementation for major depression: a randomized controlled trial. Lespérance F, Frasure-Smith N, St-André E, Turecki G, Lespérance P, Wisniewski SR. Journal of Psychiatry. Avgust 2011.

Supplements commonly used for Anxiety:

Omega 3

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