Taking more regular fish oil supplements may help to prevent psychosis, according to new research by the University of Melbourne.
The study found that a three-month course of daily capsules helped to rapidly reduce the rate of psychotic disorders among young people, especially in teenagers and those aged between 13 and 24. The participants were followed for seven years, and it emerged that four out of the 41 who had taken fish oil had developed psychosis, compared to the 16 who had taken a placebo capsule. If anything, those on the placebo actually developed psychosis quicker than those taking fish oils.
Speaking to the Guardian, Paul Amminger at the University of Melbourne said: “Schizophrenia is a major cause of disability, but early treatment has been linked to better outcomes. Our study gives hope that there may be alternatives to antipsychotic medication."
It is estimated that one per cent of people in Britain will experience symptoms of schizophrenia at one point in their lives, including delusions or hallucinations. The condition is usually diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 35.
The research team will now enlarge the pool of participants before doctors can make any recommendations about taking fish oils. It is actually the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that are in the fish oils, which are believed to be behind the reduction in psychosis - and even better, they have minimal side effects. These fatty acids are generally important for brain development and function, so fish is usually recommended as a rule for good mental health.
The findings were published in the journal Nature Communications. They follow a study in 2006 that looked at fish oils as a preventative measure for schizophrenia but declared its results inconclusive.
Read about support and personalised care at Barchester care homes for anyone with mental health concerns.