October 10, 2007

Mental Health Research - Update


1. Depression Risk Higher with Diet of High Omega-6/Omega-3 Ratio
2. Folic Acid Supplementation May Reduce Depression Risk
3. Antidepressants Become the Most Highly-Prescribed Drug in America

Depression Risk Higher with Diet of High Omega-6/Omega-3 Ratio

Two common essential fatty acids are Omega-3, found in fish, leafy greens and other foods, and Omega-6, found in olive oil, some nuts and seeds, and other sources. A 1:3 balance of omega-3 and omega-6 EFAs in the diet is recommended by many nutritionists. Western cultures typically consume higher quantities of omega-6 EFAs, because these are found in meat, animal products, and common cooking oils, resulting in unhealthy EFA balances. The average North American diet is about 15:1 and Americans have a ratio as skewed as 1:40.
The April 2007 issue of Psychosomatic Medicine reports on a study of adults with high Omega 6:Omega 3 diets and how this impacted their rate of depression. The research showed that those with a high ratio exhibited significantly more low mood.

According to Medscape, lead author Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD, from Ohio State University in Columbus, told: "The major finding here is that yes, [diet] matters, and it probably matters more in people who have high levels of depressive symptoms." She added that this study provides evidence that diet seems to be very important in the way that people respond to depression and stress, and that "diet is not just a sideline player."

Folic Acid Supplementation May Reduce Depression Risk

Folate, a B vitamin found in green leafy vegetables and other foods, has repeatedly been found to be generally low in people with depression. Additionally, supplementation with folic acid—the

synthetic form of folate—has been found to reduce depression in some people.
In research published in the July edition of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, researchers at the University of York and Hull York Medical School, led by Dr Simon Gilbody, concluded that there is a link between depression and low folate levels, following a review of 11 previous studies involving 15,315 participants.

Last month, Britain's Food Standards Agency recommended to UK Health Ministers the introduction of mandatory fortification of either bread or flour with folic acid to prevent neural tube defects, which can result in miscarriage, neonatal death or lifelong disability. The York study suggests that the measure may also help in the fight against depression.

Dr Gilbody said: "Our study is unique in that for the first time all the relevant evidence in this controversial area has been brought together. Although the research does not prove that low folate causes depression, we can now be sure that the two are linked. Interestingly, there is also some trial evidence that suggests folic acid supplements can benefit people with depression. We recommend that large trials should be carried out to further test this suggestion."

Antidepressants Become the Most Highly-Prescribed Drug in America

A report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that, as of 2005, antidepressants are the most highly prescribed drug in the United States. Of the 2.4 billion drug prescriptions written in 2005, 118 million were for antidepressants. Coming in second were 113 million prescriptions for high blood pressure pills.

This increase took place throughout the 1990s and continues to grow. The numbers of adult antidepressant prescriptions tripled between 1988 to 1994 and 1999 to 2000.

In an interview with www.allheadlinenews.com, Dr. Dworkin, a Maryland anesthesiologist and senior fellow at Washington's Hudson Institute, said doctors are essentially prescribing pills to "cure" unhappiness. "Doctors are now medicating unhappiness. Too many people take drugs when they really need to be making changes in their lives."

Posted on October 10, 2007 11:21 AM
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