Teens and young adults who suffer from psychiatric disorders may have a natural treatment option. Omega-3 fish oils are being studied as a possible therapy.
The teen years can be difficult enough, but for teens who suffer from a psychiatric disorder, school, work, and social interactions are even more challenging. Researchers working with teens at risk are studying whether omega-3 fatty acids are a viable treatment option for psychiatric disorders.
A new study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (US) will look into whether omega-3s (fish oil) can improve clinical symptoms in teenagers and young adults ages 12 to 25.
Three hundred adolescents have already participated in the Recognition and Prevention (RAP) Program at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research.
"Of the 300 adolescents who have participated in the RAP Program, most have shown substantial improvement," says Barbara Cornblatt, PhD, director of the program.
Role of omega-3s in brain function
Omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in the brain where they’re highly concentrated. Research shows they’re important for cognitive functioning, such as memory and performance, and for behavioural functioning.
The new double-blind study will randomly assign participants to either receive omega-3s or a placebo. Psychiatric symptoms and functioning will be reassessed after six months.
Researchers hope that if the study is successful, omega-3s could provide a natural treatment alternative to the medications and therapies presently available.