Image: © emiliozv/Getty Images
Omega-3 fatty acid supplements may help ease anxiety symptoms in people diagnosed with a range of physical and mental health problems, according to a review published in the Sept. 14, 2018, JAMA Network Open. The report pooled findings from 19 different studies and included 1,200 people. Most of the studies compared omega-3 supplements to a placebo. Taken together, the studies included people with a range of health problems, including heart attacks, attention deficit disorder, substance abuse, depression, and Parkinson's disease, as well as some groups without any specific clinical diagnosis. Researchers found that people who took high doses of omega-3s (up to 2,000 mg a day) seemed to have the most reduction in anxiety symptoms. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are usually derived from fish oil, have a number of biological effects in the body. Brain membranes contain a high proportion of these fats, and human studies suggest that a lack of omega-3s in the brain may induce various behavioral and psychiatric disorders. For now, it's too soon to recommend high-dose omega-3 supplements for treating anxiety. Larger trials testing the supplements (both alone and combined with standard treatments) are needed, the study authors say.
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.
No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.