Using Fish Oil for Depression

young woman smiling and taking spoonful of fish oil soft gels

Can fish oil improve mood?

Can you use fish oil for depression?

Fish and fish oil are natural sources of the omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Studies indicate these fatty acids may a play a role in your mood and mental health.  Research shows that rates of depression tend to occur more often in countries where they don’t consumer high amounts of fish or seafood.

When Japanese scientists looked at fish consumption and resilience to depression in Japanese workers, they found more frequent consumption of fish lead to lower rates of depression.

And an article in the 1998 Journal of Affective Disorders claims patients diagnosed with depression had significantly lower blood levels of EPA and DHA.  Scientists have also found a higher risk for suicide in depressed patients who had imbalances in their omega 3 fatty acid profiles.

How Can Using Fish Oil Reduce Depression?

medical diagram showing cutaway view of brain and spinal cord

Fish oil may affect serotonin levels

Scientists believe the fatty acids in fish oil may influence the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects your mood.

Researchers at the National Institute of Health fed piglets a diet high in omega 3 fatty acids and found a corresponding increase of serotonin in the frontal cortex; increasing the dosage lead to an increase in serotonin.

In another study, Omega 3 Fatty Acids Evaluated for Bipolar Disorder, men with bipolar disorder were given either fish oil or olive oil. The group taking fish oils experienced a greater decrease in depression symptoms and stayed in remission longer. When the olive oil group switched over to taking fish oils, they also experienced a positive change in their mood.

This effect was also seen a study published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry where researchers found people with depression or bipolar disorders experienced a noticeable anti-depressant effect when they added fish oils to their diets.

What’s the Best Fish Oil Dosage for Depression?

While the above research shows some encouraging results, there’s ongoing debate on what’s the single, best dosage for treating depression with fish oils.

Some studies showed positive effects from using only one (1) gram of fish oil a day, and other studies used up to 4 grams a day of EPA and DHA:

  • A study in the 2005 Journal of Clinical Psychiatry compared the effects of 1, 2 or 4 grams a day of EPA in patients with persistent depression. Researchers found that using 1 gram per day of EPA resulted in a 50% improvement in Depression Ratings.

  • In another study, doctors at the Institute of Psychiatry, London, completed a 12 week, double-blind study on the effects of 1 – 2 grams a day of EPA, compared with a placebo on bipolar depression. Researchers found a significant improvement in Depression Test Scores in patients that received the EPA treatment.

  • And in 2009, a Canadian study examined the effects of EPA and DHA in menopausal women with diagnosed depression. Patients taking 1 gram per day for eight weeks reported less mood swings and improvement in depression symptoms, particularly among test subjects with less severe depression.

From a strictly dietary viewpoint, eating more fish or seafood may enhance mood and reduce the risk for depressive symptoms.

Food scientists claim that the best type of fish to eat are sardines, mackeral and trout due to their naturally higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids.

If you’re thinking of using fish oil for depression, consult with your health care provider before using any nutritional supplement.

“Search for more Fish Oil Supplements at”

Home Page > Fish Oil Home Page > Guide to Using Fish Oil for Depression