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Depression and EPA fish oil. Does it really work?

By David McEvoy

It is now no secret that people all over the western world are turning to high grade ethyl EPA omega 3 fish oil to treat a number of conditions, but can it really work against a problem that knows no boundaries of age, race or gender. It is a condition that affects millions of people at some time in there lives, it's called depression.


So can high grade ethyl EPA fish oil help with depression and low moods, lets take a look at the evidence. In one study involving 20 people with recurrent depression, researchers studied the effects of the specific omega 3 fatty acid known as pure EPA.

Patients involved in this study randomly received either the ethyl EPA fish oil capsule or a sugar pill in addition to the anti depressant medication they were taking. After only four weeks, six out of ten patients receiving EPA had significantly reduced symptoms of depression.

The leading researcher in this study Boris Nements said - the effect of the fatty acid EPA was significant from week two of treatment he also noted that - the symptoms of depressed mood, guilt feelings, worthlessness and insomnia had all improved by week three."

This particular study was carried out at the University of the Negev in Israel and was published in the American journal of psychiatry 2002.

Another very high profile study using the essential fatty acid pure EPA was carried out in Scotland by doctors Peet and horribin. This study involved seventy patients who were suffering from depression that was persisting despite ongoing treatment with standard antidepressant drugs.

The study lasted twelve weeks, and the background anti depressant drugs the patients were receiving was not altered during the trial. The results showed that the patients taking EPA showed significant improvement after only four weeks in all symptoms of depression, when compared to the group who were administered a dummy pill.

This study was published in the Archives of general Psychiatry.

Pure Ethyl EPA

Omega 3 fish oil is high in two key compounds DHA and EPA. In both studies mentioned above they used ultra pure ethyl EPA that contained zero DHA. The reason for this was that they found that the purer the compound of EPA then the more effective it seemed to be.

The brain has much more DHA than EPA but the studies found that EPA is much more important when it comes to responses to nerve stimulation. It appeared that the DHA maybe more important for structure and the EPA for function.

Blood samples taken from people in the USA, Europe, Australia and Japan showed that depressed people have especially low levels of EPA, when compared to blood samples of people who were not suffering from low moods or depression.

The lead researches from the study in Scotland both concluded that EPA is the most important essential fatty acid in the treatment of depression.

These findings are backed up with two randomised controlled trials from Sheffield and Baylor universities involving DHA only, which showed no improvements in the symptoms of depression. In fact the results were significant and showed the DHA controlled groups to be slightly worse than the placebo controlled groups.


People all over the western world are successfully using pure ethyl EPA without the DHA to treat depression and related disorders.

Copyright 2005 David McEvoy

About The Author

Dave mcevoy: A great resource for high grade omega 3 Ethly EPA fish oil in a vegetable shell with a 90% concentrate of EPA and Zero DHA visit


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