Depression is a real and common threat for middle-aged women throughout the menopausal transition. Besides decreasing women's quality of life, depressive and other psychological ailments can significantly compromise their physical health.
Canadian researchers conducted a clinical trial to determine whether omega-3 fatty acid supplementation can alleviate depression during menopause.
This 8-week trial consisted of recruiting 120 menopausal women reporting moderate to severe psychological distress, with a quarter of them reaching the major depressive episode criteria.
To evaluate the effects of omegas on depression, researchers divided women into two groups: the intervention group that was taking three omega-3 fatty acids capsules daily (containing 350 mg E-EPA and 50 mg DHA in the form of ethyl esters) and the control group that was given the placebo (containing sunflower oil).
Researchers measured the outcomes of the regimen on psychological distress and depressive scales, using the Psychological Well-Being Schedule, the Hopkins Symptom Checklist Depression Scale, and the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale.
There were no significant improvements among women with psychological distress and major depressive episodes.
However, there was a substantial reduction of symptoms among women in the omega-3 fatty acid group that reported psychological distress, but did not meet the major depressive episode criteria.
What Does It Mean?
Published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the findings of this trial demonstrate that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation is useful for treating depressive symptoms. Its authors call for more scientific studies to further investigate their use for menopause treatment.
It is worth noting that besides alleviating psychological ailments, omega-3 fatty acids may also benefit middle-aged women by improving their cardiovascular health, which is one of the main menopausal risks.1,2
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (2008). Ethyl-eicosatetraenoic acid for the treatment of psychological distress and depressive symptoms in middle-aged women: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial. Retrieved January 6, 2021 from https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/89/2/641/4596741?login=true
- Cleveland Clinic. (2019). Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Retrieved January 6, 2021 from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/17290-omega-3-fatty-acids
- American Heart Association. (n.d.). Menopause and heart disease. Retrieved January 6, 2021 from https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/consumer-healthcare/what-is-cardiovascular-disease/menopause-and-heart-disease