Depression is a common condition in the elderly, yet it often goes unrecognized or untreated. Treatment of depression may involve addressing an underlying physical illness that is causing the depression, stopping a medication that causes depression, use of antidepressant medications, or therapy. Certain lifestyle factors can also be modified to help with depression, including physical exercise, minimal use of alcohol, and social support.

To this list of beneficial lifestyle factors we can certainly add omega-3 fish oil, especially in elderly women according to a recent study published in Nutrition Journal. Forty-six depressed females aged 66 to 95 years were supplemented with 2.5 grams omega-3 containing EPA+DHA or a placebo for eight weeks. The women taking the omega-3 fish oil experienced reduced symptoms of depression compared to those women taking placebo. “This study confirms the positive effects of omega-3 PUFA [polyunsaturated fatty acid] supplementation in the treatment of elderly depression,” stated the researchers.

Low omega-3 intake has been associated with an array of mental health conditions. The researchers also measured omega-3 levels in the patients, stating, “Our data clearly demonstrate that elderly depression is characterized by very low levels of omega-3 PUFA, in particular of eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA], in red blood cell membranes compared to healthy subjects.” 

Depression can often be averted by staying physically, mentally, and socially active, and by consuming healthy nutrients. This is true at all ages, but is particularly necessary as we age. Most people simply do not eat enough omega-3 fats, and it can be very difficult to get enough from the diet, especially in today’s world. Concentrated fish oils offer a great way to raise your omega-3 levels to achieve vibrant health.