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A must-read for anyone dealing with depression, The Omega-3 Connection by Andrew L. Stoll, M.D., strikes yet another blow against the standard American diet. We already know that years of noshing on highly processed foods have saddled us with sky-high rates of heart disease, obesity, and related conditions. But, as we're starting to understand now, our eating habits may also be subtly altering our brain chemistry, leaving us vulnerable to anxiety disorders and depression. Only in this case, it's not just what we're eating--it's what we're not eating: foods containing omega-3 essential fatty acids--the "good fats" that help maintain optimal brain function.
In his book, Stoll, the director of the psychopharmacology research lab at Boston's McLean Hospital and assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, suggests that restoring our body's natural balance of omega-3s may help alleviate (and prevent) many types of depression--even for those who don't respond to traditional antidepressants. Omega-3s may also prove helpful with other problems, such as the inability to handle stress, memory loss, and cognitive decline. The book contains a "renewal plan" designed to help readers put Stoll's concepts into practice, recipes for omega-3-rich dishes, advice for choosing supplements, and dosages for therapeutic use.
Although Stoll is quick with the caveat that much of the research on omega-3s and brain function is still evolving, he makes a compelling case for using these fats to regulate depression and other cognitive disorders. Along with major epidemiological evidence that shows lower rates of depression in those cultures that consume a great deal of omega-3s, Stoll's own studies indicate that boosting their intake can reduce depression symptoms. And Stoll cites stacks of additional studies suggesting that omega-3s can also help with major depression, schizophrenia, and postpartum depression. Going even further, Stoll makes a strong argument that omega-3 deficiency could be contributing to rising rates of teen violence and attention deficit disorders.
Of course, depression should never be treated without physician supervision. But in laying the groundwork for the omega-3s to emerge as the next big thing in natural depression therapy, Stoll certainly gives us food for thought. --Norine Dworkin
Harold G. Koenig, M.D. Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, and author of The Healing Power of Faith Dr. Stoll provides a careful, scientifically based look at a natural, nondrug treatment for depression and manic-depressive illness. Easy to read, fascinating, and informative, this book is a must for every person who struggles with these conditions and for those who love them.