Those at risk of developing psychosis appear less likely to actually develop a psychotic disorders after taking fish oil, according to a report in the February 2010 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the Journal of the American Medical Association Archives journals.
July 27, 2010
Omega-3 fatty acids are a promising intervention in persons with schizophrenia, who may have an underlying dysfunction in fatty acid metabolism, note the authors of the study.
G. Paul Amminger, M.D., of Medical University of Vienna, Austria, and Orygen Youth Health Research Centre, Melbourne, Australia, conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of the effect of omega-3 fatty acids on the risk of progression to psychosis in 81 individuals who were at high risk of developing the disease.
These 81 individuals either had mild psychotic symptoms, transient psychosis, or a family history of psychotic disorders plus a decrease in functioning. Their risk of becoming psychotic may have been as high as 40 percent in a 12-month period.
41 individuals were assigned to take 1.2 grams of fish oil daily over a twelve week period, and 40 were assigned to take a placebo. A total of 76 (93.8%) completed the study. By the end of the study, two (4.9 percent) in the omega-3 group and 11 (27.5 percent) in the placebo group, had progressed to a psychotic disorder. The difference between progression to psychosis was 22.6%.
Based on the results, the authors estimate that four ultra high risk adults would need to be treated with omega-3 fatty acids to prevent one from developing psychosis over a 12-month period. The omega-3 fatty acids also significantly reduced symptoms and improved functioning, compared with the placebo. Rates of adverse effects between the two groups were minimal and similar.
The authors note that, “The finding that treatment with a natural substance may prevent or at least delay the onset of the psychotic disorder gives hope that there may be alternatives to antipsychotics for the prodromal (early symptomatic) phase.”
“Stigmatization and adverse effects–which include metabolic changes, sexual dysfunction and weight gain–associated with the use of antipsychotics are often not acceptable for young people,” they continue.
Omega-3 fatty acids are mostly free of adverse effects. The authors conclude, “They have the advantage of excellent tolerability, public acceptance, relatively low costs and benefits for general health. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk of progression to psychotic disorder and may offer a safe and efficacious strategy for indicated prevention in young people with subthreshold psychotic states.”
Editor’s note: There is a growing consensus among school psychologists that the omega 3 fatty acids found in fatty fish and fish oil supplements such as Omega Kids can either completely cure or drastically reduce behaviors that often lead children to be classifed as needing special education services. These behaviors generally result in a medical diagnosis of Bi-polar Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Affect Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), and they often result in an educational diagnosis of Learning Disability or Emotional Disturbance.
There are new research findings that support the effectiveness of omega-3 fatty acids. However, the interest of school psychologists is primarily based on anecdotal information and observation. When a school-based team reviews a student’s educationally relevant behaviors, the recommendation to the parents to begin a fish oil regimen is often made. Results of even short term treatment with fish oil are often astounding. Parents report drastic changes in their child’s behavior and attitude. Teachers document these changes in the classroom, and the efforts to place the child in special education are often discontinued.
Most children do not like to eat fish. This makes Omega Kids, a special formulation of omega-3 fatty acids designed just for children, a critical tool in circumventing problems that interfere with the educational process.