Here's What You Should Know About Omega-3s And Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Amid lock downs, life changes, and loneliness, it's safe to say the "winter blues" might be a bit amplified this year. While fatigue and moods shifts during colder, darker days are common, there is a distinct difference between the winter blues and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). A recurring type of depression, SAD can be debilitating, but there are treatments that can help, including psychotherapy, light therapy, and medications (via Mayo Clinic). More recently, emerging research shows there may be an omega-3 consumption connection to seasonal depression.

Studies suggest that countries consuming more fish, such as Japan and Iceland, have shockingly lower rates of SAD. In the month of December, Iceland loses most of its daylight, leaving only four hours of daily sun, yet, its seasonal depression occurrence is less than four percent (via The Atlantic). Interestingly, Icelanders believe that their diet, abundant with omega-3 laden cold-water fish such as salmon, cod, and sardines, help maintain a happy disposition, which is aligned with the research showing that diets high in omega-3 lead to lower depressive rates.

Promising research links omega-3 intake to decreased depression

According to the Psychiatric Times, a 1998 cross-national analysis found that those who ate more fish correlated with a lower annual rate of depression and an alternate study showed those who ate less fish were found to have more depressive symptoms or a higher percentage of depression among the population. Harvard Health Publishing suggests that omega-3 therapy looks promising, and can be considered for some mood disorders once there is more research on the efficacy as well as the long-term effects. According to Healthline, supplementing with omega-3 has been shown to improve symptoms in people suffering with depression and can have an even greater effect on those already on antidepressant medications.

There are other notable advantages to a diet high in omega-3 that make it worth looking into, such as improved heart health, increased good cholesterol, and lower blood pressure (via Cleveland Clinic). The research on the benefits of omega-3 for various health and mood disorders is plentiful and promising. However, if you suspect you may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, supplementing with omega-3 should only be done after speaking with your doctor.