Fish Oil and SSRI
DISCLAIMER: This article has been written for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment
Fish oil and SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are among the substances clinicians most often recommend to control a wide range of emotional conditions including anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, and other types of psychological issues. Both fish oil and SSRI help increase the levels of serotonin, a chemical messenger (neurotransmitter) that conveys signals among nerve cells (neurons), by slowing down the process of reabsorption (reuptake) of serotonin in the brain.
Since serotonin plays an important role in regulating mood and cognitive functions, higher levels of serotonin produce many brain benefits especially in the treatment and prevention of psychological conditions. In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about fish oil and SSRI and how their effects are intertwined in improving brain conditions by supporting serotonin. So, let’s get started.
Table of contents
- What is fish oil?
- What is SSRI?
- The link between fish oil and SSRI
- How to use fish oil
- Precautions and side effects
- Final words
What is fish oil?
Fish oil is the oil or fat that’s derived from the fish tissues. It’s packed with omega-3 fatty acids that are vital for many bodily functions in the human body, from cell growth to muscle activity.
Fish oils come from oily fishes that are immensely rich in various omega-3 fatty acids. They may include salmon, tuna, mackerel, trout, and a variety of shellfish such as crabs, oysters, and mussels. Besides, sometimes fish oils are produced from the livers of other fatty fish too such as, for instance, cod liver oil.
International health organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend consuming at least one to two portions of fish per week. This is due to the benefits fish oils produce in the human body.
Studies suggest that the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish offer a number of health benefits including protection against a range of heart and brain diseases.
What is SSRI?
SSRIs or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are a type of medications that is mainly used as antidepressants for treating a range of major psychological conditions including anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, and other emotional and mood issues.
There’re various categories of SSRIs that are permitted by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to treat many different brain and mood disorders. Some of them may include:
- Fluoxetine (Prozac)
- Paroxetine (Paxil)
- Citalopram (Celexa)
- Fluvoxamine (Luvox)
- Escitalopram (Lexapro)
- Sertraline (Zoloft)
SSRI helps increase the functionality of nerve cells, also known as neurons, that regulate emotion in the brain. Information is carried out among nerve cells in the brain through signals. Some chemical messengers called neurotransmitters deliver these signals. Serotonin is one of them.
When the brain cells or neurons send signals to each other, they emanate some neurotransmitters so that the message can be passed seamlessly. But just after passing the message, they take back the neurotransmitter they produced so that it can be used for the next message. This process of taking back is called reuptake.
SSRIs help block the reuptake process in the areas of the brain where brain cells send signals using serotonin and regulate mood, thus, increased serotonin levels carry messages more efficiently. Since they specifically target and work on serotonin, they are named selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs.
The link between fish oil and SSRI
Fish oil and the amino acids it holds have been described to have a remarkable ability to regulate major depression symptoms just like SSRIs. These antidepressant and anxiolytic properties of fish oil can significantly boost the antidepressant effects of SSRIs in the treatment of depression and other psychological disorders.
Experts have reviewed the findings of several clinical trials made worldwide and concluded that fish oil has properties to increase the effectiveness of SSRIs and can help people fight depression more efficiently who have depression and are already taking SSRI medications.
A key substance of omega 3 fatty acids, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) helps reduce inflammation in the brain and facilitates the production of serotonin from the brain nerves (neurons).
Besides, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), another major substance of fish oil plays an important role in the serotonin pathways. In this way, fish oil can help serotonin work better in the brain, making it noticeably effective in the treatment of depression and associated emotional conditions. And when the fish oil is used in combination with SSRIs, the results are obviously higher than those that are produced by the SSRIs alone.
How to use fish oil
Doses of fish oil supplements vary depending on the health condition and age. Most often clinicians recommended fish oil supplements in doses of 2 grams to 6 grams per day for up to 12 weeks.
Fish oil supplements generally provide 120 mg to 375 mg of DHA and 180 mg to 450 mg to EPA per capsule. To determine your best dose of fish oil supplements, always consider consulting with a qualified naturopathic doctor.
Precautions and side effects
Fish oil supplements are generally considered safe and well-tolerable in recommended doses. Mild side effects of fish oil may include skin rash, bad breath, nausea, heartburn, diarrhea, and a fishy taste in the mouth. But these side effects aren’t common for all.
Fish oil may also interact with other herbs, supplements, and drugs such as anticoagulants and antiplatelet medications. Always check with your healthcare provider prior to using fish oil supplements especially if you’re taking any medication, or you’re pregnant, or breastfeeding.
Fish oil and SSRI show similar antidepressant and anxiolytic actions while used in the treatment of depression and other psychological disorders. They both support the production and activity of serotonin in the brain. Therefore, fish oil comes under a type of supplements that can boost the antidepressant effects of SSRIs and other antidepressants.
Since fish oil may interact with other herbs and medications and may produce some adverse effects, it’s important to consult with a medical doctor prior to using any fish oil supplements.
Check out Vorst’s pure and natural Fish Oil 2000 mg (1000 mg x 2) Softgels here that typically provide 360 mg EPA and 260 mg DHA per serving.