Saturday January 19th 2019

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Fish Oil Benefits Kids & Teens with Mental Illness

Fish-oils

According to an Associated Press story, new research has shown that fish oil pills “may be able to save some young people with signs of mental illness from descending into schizophrenia.” While the study was small, the results are hopeful — especially because of the limited pharmaceutical options and the potentially serious side effects when treating children and teens.  Fish oil has previously been reported to also help kids with ADD and ADHD.

The Austrian study of only 81 patients adds to evidence suggesting severe mental illness might be prevented with the right intervention.  It seems incredibly simple,  but fish oil fits one hypothesis for what causes schizophrenia, a possible difference in how the body handles fatty acids.

Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness that strikes adolescents and young adults. About 2.4 million Americans have the disorder, which is treated with antipsychotic medication.  The signs include sleeping dramatically more or less than usual, growing suspicious of others, believing someone is putting thoughts in their head or thinking they have magical powers. The young people in the study sought professional help and most were referred by psychiatrists at the Medical University of Vienna, Austria.

No one knows what causes schizophrenia but one hypothesis says people with the disease don’t process fatty acids correctly, leading to damaged brain cells.  Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil could help brain cells to repair and stabilize, the researchers speculate. Some prior studies on omega-3 supplements in people with full-blown schizophrenia have shown benefits.

“The results are very impressive and very striking and really represent a step forward potentially for patients and their families,” said Dr. Neil Richtand, a schizophrenia researcher at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

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