London, Jan 25: A new research has revealed that fish oil can help patients to overcome depression.
Dr Tom Gilhooly, a GP in Glasgow, said his practice now prescribed omega 3 supplements to people with mild to moderate depression, with as many as 60 per cent seeing a major improvement without antidepressants.
But he said there was a lack of knowledge about the benefits among GPs. Dr Gilhooly, director of the Centre for Nutritional Studies in Glasgow, also said the higher cost of supplements over antidepressants made health boards loath to let doctors prescribe them.
His comments came at a conference in Glasgow looking at food's impact on behaviour.
"We are starting to look at more natural treatments for depression," he said. "I treat people with omega 3 and it works really well. It would work even better if we had the opportunity to check their omega 3 levels to work out how much they need," Dr Gilhooly was quoted by the Telegraph, as saying.
Blood samples from Dr Gilhooly's surgery go to the US to test for omega 3 levels - at a cost of £99 each. He hopes to set up a lab at Glasgow University to do the test and cut costs.
Doctors issued more than 3.5 million prescriptions for antidepressants in Scotland in 2005 - three times what they were handing out 13 years ago.
OMEGA 3 fatty acids are found in oily fish and some plant oils.
Doctors have long discussed their benefits for the heart and circulation, but last year a large study cast doubt on the extent of the benefits for heart health.
Other research has suggested that omega 3 could help to stop the spread of cancer. And many trials have looked at whether fish-oil supplements help children to concentrate better at school, especially those with hyperactivity and dyslexia.