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Anxiety



Are you making your “To Do” list or worrying more about what is going to happen in the future? The former is what many moms are constantly doing in their heads and can be quite hard to turn off, but the latter could be more indicative of an anxiety disorder. As one may be excessively

worrying about an issue(s) that cannot be addressed at that moment, it can lead to physiological symptoms.


What is anxiety? Anxiety has a few forms:


  • generalized anxiety disorder;

  • obsessive-compulsive disorder;

  • panic disorder;

  • post-traumatic stress disorder; and

  • social phobia (Lipksi, 2015).


Some physical signs one may experience are sweating, increased heartrate, memory issues, lack of concentration, breathing issues and headaches to name a few. If one is experiencing any of these symptoms, it is a good idea to work with a healthcare professional who is trained in counseling mood disorders.


While physical activity and relaxing protocols are important steps to take to reduce anxiety, there supplements available that can physiologically fight anxiety symptoms inside the body as well.

Omega-3 fatty acid supplements are one worth trying to help mitigate anxiety symptoms. Kiecolt-Glaser, Belury, Andridge, Malarkey and Glaser (2011) conducted a study on the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on the anxiety symptoms of participants. The researchers observed that the group that received the supplement showed a reduction in anxiety symptoms compared to the group that took the placebo.


What role do omega-3 fatty acids have in the body? The cells in the body need fatty acids, in particular, the brain and the intestinal lining cells need fatty acids. The biophysical and biochemical properties of cell membranes are directly affected by the types of fats one consumes (Pizzorno, Murray, & Joiner-Bey, 2016). When the cell membranes are not formed properly, the homeostasis is disordered and disrupts proper nerve functioning, which impacts mood. The gut also plays a role in mood disorders, because the gut and brain communicate through the gut-brain axis. In fact, the gut sends 90% of the messages exchanged (Lipski, 2015). It is key to keep inflammation under control in the gut as well. According to Harvard Health Letter, it has been observed that patients with behavioral and psychiatric disorders have an insufficiency of omega-3s in the brain (2019). Omega-3s in the diet help counteract the effects of harmful omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory, and omega-3s are anti-inflammatory.


How much should one take? According to Bozzatello, Brignolo, De Grandi and Bellino (2016), a person can tolerate up to 5g a day. However, one should consult a primary care physician or nutrition specialist to discuss appropriate dosage. One should look for omega-3s derived from fish. It is important to review brands and to get the best quality supplement. A number of brands use filler oils that can be counteractive. It is also possible to buy liquid fish oil, which you will have more control of the dosage. When reviewing the label for supplements, you want to buy one that has both eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA fatty acids cannot be synthesized in the body, which is why supplementing is important.


In addition to dosage, one should consult their physician if medications have been prescribed, as there can be some interactions with fish oil. For example, there could be interactions with blood clotting or blood pressure medications. One should avoid fish oil supplements if they are allergic to fish.


Bozzatello, P., Brignolo, E., De Grandi, E., & Bellino, S. (2016). Supplementation with Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Psychiatric Disorders: A Review of Literature Data. Journal of clinical medicine5(8), 67. doi:10.3390/jcm5080067


Harvard Health Letter (2019, January). Omega-3s for anxiety? Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/omega-3s-for-anxiety


Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., Belury, M. A., Andridge, R., Malarkey, W. B., & Glaser, R. (2011). Omega-3 supplementation lowers inflammation and anxiety in medical students: a randomized controlled trial. Brain, behavior, and immunity25(8), 1725–1734. doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2011.07.229


Lipski, L. (2015). Anxiety & Depression [pdf presentation]. Retrieved from https://learn.muih.edu/courses/8555/pages/affective-disorders-overview-required?module_item_id=262113

Pizzorno, J., Murray M., & Joiner-Bey, H. (2016). The clinician’s handbook of natural medicine. (3rd ed.). St. Louis, MO: Churchill Livingstone.



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