Anxiety, or more specifically anxiety-related disorders, is becoming increasingly common around the world. It is estimated that 12% of the global population suffers from anxiety disorders in a given year. Now, if you are suffering from the symptoms of any anxiety-related disorders, you might be desperately looking for a cure.
Thankfully, treatment is not always as complicated as you might think they are. There are some pretty common things that might have some significant effect in treating anxiety disorders. One such thing is fish oil. So, does using fish oil for anxiety have any effect? In the following article, we are going to look at some of the important things that you should know about when it comes to using omega 3 for anxiety.
What is Anxiety Disorders?
Before we get into how you can use fish oil for anxiety, let us first know a bit about anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders could be defined as a family of disorders that is characterized by a significant feeling of anxiety and fear. In simpler words, people suffering from anxiety disorders feel overly anxious or scared for no good reason.
As we have said, anxiety disorders are just not one particular disorder but a group of disorders. The ‘family’ includes some commonly-known disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD)(1), various types of phobias, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), panic disorders and the likes.
Anxiety disorders often cause issues like hyperthyroidism and heart disease, and also increased the use of caffeine, alcohol, or cannabis use. High levels of stress can also cause issues ranging from hair fall to even nervous breakdown.
Now, that we know how serious anxiety disorders can be, let us take a look at how you can use fish oil for anxiety.
What is fish oil?
Fish oil, as the name suggests, is the oil that is derived from oily fish. Usually, fish oil is derived from species like cod or salmon. These fishes can produce quality oils as they feed on a diet of small fishes and algae, which are naturally rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Since the primary constituent of fish oil is Omega 3 fatty acid, fish oil is often termed as Omega-3 oils.
Fish oil is unsaturated fat. This means that it does not because of the bad effects that other ‘saturated’ oils have. They don’t raise the level of cholesterol in the body and don’t cause heart ailments. Fish oil is a natural treatment that is often recommended for a wide range of ailments.
Now, that we have known about fish oils in general, let us take a look at how does it help to use fish oil for anxiety.
Using Fish Oil for Anxiety – How Does it Help?
To know how it might help to use fish oil for anxiety, we might understand a few things about the brain and how it processes fear and anxiety in general.
There is a part of the brain called Amygdala. This is the part responsible for processing fear. Now, fear is necessary for human survival as it helps us to stay from potentially dangerous situations. However, increased activity of the Amygdala can result in anxiety-related disorders.
Now, it has been found that the heightened activity of Amygdala is caused by low levels of the chemical dopamine in the body. So, in a way, it can be said that anxiety disorders are caused by lower levels of dopamine in the body.
This is exactly where it helps to use fish oil for anxiety. Studies suggest that an intake of fish oil can help to normalize dopamine levels(2) in the body.
A research paper published in 2018, has also stated that the high PUFA content of fish oils can also help in treating depressive as they might have anti-depressant effects. So, it might also be useful to use fish oil for depression and anxiety.
How to use fish oil for depression and anxiety?
Let us take a look at how you can use omega 3 for anxiety. You can make it a part of your diet by consuming fishes like salmon, as they are naturally rich in omega 3 oils. However, this might not be highly effective in more serious cases as the ratio of oil to meat in fishes is a bit low. This means that you have to consume a lot to have any significant effect in serious cases.
The Best Way to Use Fish Oil for Anxiety
If you are looking to use fish oil for anxiety, then your best bet would be to take supplements. Omega 3 supplements(3) contain nothing but fish oil, so they would have a greater effect compared to eating fish meat.
Now, you might ask what the right dosage for fish oil for anxiety is. Well, the best person to tell you that would be your doctor. Your physician would be able to assess your condition and then suggest the right dosage for you.
[Read: Teas To Curb Anxiety]
Side Effects of Using Fish Oil
When you are using fish oil for anxiety, you should be aware of the side effects. Excessive intake of fish oil might cause the following side effects.
- High Blood Sugar levels
- Low blood pressure
- Vitamin A toxicity
- Increased risk of stroke
Before you take fish oil for anxiety, you should discuss it with your doctor. You should know about the dosage and any potential diseases.
Using fish oil for anxiety can be highly beneficial for people suffering from such disorders. Taking fish oil can be considered to be safe, provided you take it within safe limits. However, taking fish oil for depression and anxiety should not be regarded as a complete treatment in itself. You should seek proper medical attention from a qualified physician. Be aware of the issues and use fish oil for anxiety and get relief from anxiety-related issues.