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Fish oil as a mood stabilizer?

I was doing some google-powered research on mood stabilizers and the first site I came across listed fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids specifically) as a mood stabilizer that has actually been shown effective by research. I suspect it's nowhere near as effective as something like lithium (but probably also doesn't have as strong of side effects), but the site summarized a number of studies suggesting its effectiveness. Here is a link: http://www.psycheducation.org/depression/meds/Omega-3.htm

Has anyone heard of this before? For some background, I have bipolar disorder type ii, which means only hypomanic episodes (meaning I might barely sleep for a few days, being much more social/productive/irritable than usual, but I never experience the super scary symptoms like delusions or making really bad decisions like gambling or spending all of my money, sex with strangers, running out in the middle of the night, etc). A psychiatrist suggested that I try mood stabilizers to treat both the hypomanic and depressive symptoms, but because I was managing to prevent hypomanic episodes really well by limiting caffiene and having a regular eating, sleeping, and exercising routine (sleep deprivation really seems to bring them on), I didn't want to go on something so strong and elected just to stay on my regular antidepressant (Wellbutrin, does nothing for hypomania/anxiety but keeps my depressive symptoms manageable and improves my focus). But because fish oil obviously doesn't have the same side effects as something like lithium, I'm curious to try it now.

And if I decide to try this, can anyone suggest a good omega-3s supplement? I'm not vegan (pescetarian actually) so fish oil based is fine.

Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
hottippic
Sep. 6th, 2007 11:23 am (UTC)
There's a lot of research out there. If you go to PubMed Central (just google it and it'll bring you to the site), and then search for omega-3 or fish oil and bipolar disorder, you'll find a lot of studies.

I don't have the study offhand, but if you want I can find it...there was a study that showed that fish oil is just about as effective as lithium and anti-convulsants used as mood stabilizers. Though, omega-3s are most effective when used in combination with a low dose of a mood stabilizer.

I'm also type II Bipolar, and when I got the opportunity to do some research on Omega-3s for a Psych class, I took the chance. That was 2 years ago, and a lot more research has come out since then. Also, one of the primary researchers is Andrew Stoll, at McLean Hospital in the Boston area. If you put his name into PubMed, you'll get a lot of the articles.

Anything on PubMed Central will be free, but there are also more articles on regular PubMed that you can access through a university or you can pay to get them.

The recommended dose is 9 grams/day, so 3 grams (1 capsule is usually one gram) 3 times a day. However, some people don't need as much and some need more. It's safe to take more, though some have suggested not to take more than 15 grams a day.

I can't remember the name of the supplement I use, but if you want, I can find it for you. Also, if you get the coated tablets, it's less likely to make you burp or have a fishy aftertaste. But, if you end up getting the fishy aftertaste or burps that taste like fish, you could take flax seed oil too, which is also high in omega-3s.

I know this is a lot of info, but I hope it helped.
lifedespitegod
Sep. 6th, 2007 04:04 pm (UTC)
Thanks for all the info :)

I will definitely check pubmed, and search through the research journals I can get to through college.
myskat
Sep. 6th, 2007 11:25 am (UTC)
We routinely recommend it in the Psychiatric setting I work in. I gram, twice a day. It has alot of action in helping protect neurological pathways and is helpful for just about everyone. It is not a likely replacement for folks with severe mood swings, but can help tremendously. Ramp up to the full dose though as it can cause some loose stool initially.

Bronson makes very high quality supplements. they also support on line ordering www.bronsonvitamins.com

we recommend this particular company because they standardize their dosing rather than just dumping enough in a capsule to fill it with varying potency as many companies do.
seeinglife
Sep. 6th, 2007 11:40 am (UTC)
I'm not diagnosed or labelled at this time, but I experience symptoms much like yours and an Omega-3 supplement does help with the depressive things as well as general mood stabilization. My understanding is that fish oil is already "whole" but that flax oil and suchlike have to be converted by your body into the active "thing," so quality fish oil is what is recommended if your beliefs permit. When I was vegetarian flax was helpful to me, so it's not like it doesn't work at all. In fact, I might go back to it after I finish this bottle of fish oil because I tend to get fish flavored burps for a while after taking it, ha.
masterskasumi
Sep. 6th, 2007 12:55 pm (UTC)
I take enteric coated caps. With the enteric coating, they are designed to digest in the lower intestine. So... no fish burps :)
akaitien
Sep. 6th, 2007 02:01 pm (UTC)
There's a company out there that packages Omega 3 for kids. It called Mega Smarts, and because it's made for kids, it's also made to taste good-ish. I take the strawberry kind and no fish taste or after taste. (I hate fish burps, shudders.)
xo_kizzy_xo
Sep. 6th, 2007 12:03 pm (UTC)
I"m hypomanic too, and I've been taking omega-3 with flax for a couple of years now.

One thing I've noticed is that I need a lesser dosage of meds. I don't feel comfortable cutting the meds out entierly, but I'm all for taking the smallest possible therapeutic dosage.

Cutting out caffeine as much as possible really helps. I'm down to 1 cup of coffee in the morning and the very occasional Diet Coke, and that's it.
I'm still working on the sleep/exercise thing. I've got a wacky work schedule that's all over the place, so it's difficult for me to establish a regular pattern of anything. But, like most things, it's a work in progress.

The supplement I'm now taking is from Trader Joe's. Same thing as the brand I used to get at the health-food store...except it's probably a good $5-10 cheaper :)

lifedespitegod
Sep. 6th, 2007 04:02 pm (UTC)
I'm in college, so it's also hard for me to keep a regular sleep schedule. Having a social life is obviously good for me because I'm not in my head so much, but it also means late nights out and alcohol, so it's hard to balance having a life with keeping the stable lifestyle I should have. I've been good with the caffeine thing though, I used to constantly have a diet coke but I've been replacing a lot of those with sparkling water with a splash of juice.
paleo_huntress
Sep. 6th, 2007 12:24 pm (UTC)
Krill oil...
I've been taking krill oil for about 6 months and it's the first summer I haven't struggled with summer S.A.D. in a decade, I swear by it.
(Deleted comment)
freshgroundfemm
Sep. 6th, 2007 06:20 pm (UTC)
Seconding Coromega! Nordic Naturals is also a good brand.
lapis_lunamoth
Sep. 6th, 2007 03:52 pm (UTC)
My midwife suggested I take the Omega-3 fish oils, because of my perimenopause mood swings. I think it's too early to really tell how it is affecting me, but I have noticed a significant improvment in mood since starting a week ago. Of course, she has also got me on progesterone cream (the real stuff, not the chemical one) and St. John's Wort. However, I read the documentation supporting the scientific findings of fish oil. I use Nature's Way and have yet to have a fishy burp. I like the above suggestion of the one for kids; we eat a lot of fish (brain-food, we call it), but adding fish oil to their supplement regimen could prove very beneficial.
sk8bettie
Sep. 6th, 2007 04:18 pm (UTC)
I just read about...
5-htp. This vitatmin complex has ammino acids that the body needs to increase seretonine. It has been shown to assist with depression!
soleil_du_matin
Sep. 6th, 2007 04:56 pm (UTC)
I found Fisol is cheapest on amazon.com. $14 for 180 caps, and they don't cause fish burps. :)
compostwormbin
Sep. 6th, 2007 06:39 pm (UTC)
Yes this has worked for me for stabilizing mood and helping improve my concentration. But I am not bipolar, just have depression episodes. I think as long as you're taking a high quality supplement and aren't allergic to fish it can't hurt to try and see for yourself whether or not it helps. In my experience, fish oil works far better than flax for this purpose.
singinbutterfly
Sep. 6th, 2007 07:51 pm (UTC)
I, too, am bipolar 2, and I have even had a psychiatrist recommend to take flax oil (fish oil would be just as good) before, and I've also seen it recommended on the natural medicine website. I SHOULD be taking some. I'm not sure if it would be a good substitute for a mood stabilizer (my meds have worked miracles for me!), but it would probably help.

Vanessa
betsycrucifix
Sep. 7th, 2007 02:14 am (UTC)
I suffer from severe hormonal mood-swings during that time of the month (PMDD whatever that load of crap is called these days), and I've found that taking omega-3 supplements has relieved my mood-swings.

I tend to stay away from fish oil 'cause of fear of mercury poisoning, and take about 500mg of flax seed oil in supplement form. If you decide to take flax, you should take it after you eat a little bit of fat (nuts, avacado, cheese, etc) because it'll absorb more readily. However with fish oil, I believe that isn't necessary.
ms_snail
Sep. 7th, 2007 05:23 am (UTC)
I'm iffy with fish oil because of the possible mercury content (and I eat a pretty good amount of fish already). I've been wanting to try a spirulina supplement, but haven't yet. However, it is a perfect food in that it contains all amino acids that humans use - including DHA, which if I'm not mistaken, is the reason you take Omega-3, to make it convert to DHA.

Anyway, it's something you may want to research as another possibility and possibly safer than the fish oil.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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