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Eating Fish Could Help Antidepressants Work

Oct 20, 2014 09:04 PM EDT

Past research has said that up to 42 percent of all treated cases of depression do not respond to antidepressants, although it has remained largely unclear why. Now researchers have found that diet can impact how a patient responds to their medication, where fish consumption can help.

That's at least according to a study recently published in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology, which shows that increasing fatty fish intake appears to increase medication response rate in patients who do not normally respond to antidepressants.

According to lead researcher Roel Mocking, he and his colleagues took a closer look at "two apparently unrelated measures," the metabolism of fatty acids and the regulation of stress hormones - what is often unbalanced in people suffering from chronic depression.

"Interestingly, we saw that depressed patients had an altered metabolism of fatty acids, and that this changed metabolism was regulated in a different way by stress hormones," he explained in a recent release.

This was determined after Mocking and his colleagues took 70 patients with depression and compared how they responded to fatty acids with 51 healthy participants. They then gave the depressed patients 20mg of a daily antidepressant for six weeks, and in those who did not respond to the drugs, the dose was gradually increased up to 50mg a day.

They found that patients who didn't respond to antidepressant treatment often had abnormal fatty acid metabolism. Those who ate fatty fish at least once a week had a 75 percent chance of responding to antidepressants, whereas those who never ate fatty fish had only a 23 percent chance of responding to antidepressants.

"Fatty acid metabolism could be influenced by eating fish," said Mocking, "which may be a way to improve antidepressant response rates."

This adds to an already full chorus of health experts shouting for people to make fish a regular part of their diets. However, it's important to note that despite its many health benefits, a recent survey of world fish supplies has shown that far more fish is recommended for consumption than declining fisheries across the globe can afford to lose.

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