By Tia Ghose
Omega-3 fatty acids may prevent the development of full-blown schizophrenia in people who are at high risk of the disease, new research suggests.
What’s more, omega-3s seemed to prevent the study participants from developing psychosis for several years after people stopped taking them, according to the study.
The findings suggest a possible treatment for people at risk of developing this notoriously difficult-to-treat condition, the researchers said. Currently, people with schizophrenia are treated with antipsychotic medications, but the drugs don’t work for everyone, have side effects, and typically have to be taken for life, meaning they aren’t suitable for people who have some symptoms, but no diagnosis of schizophrenia.
“There may be alternatives to antipsychotic medication in treating and preventing the onset of psychotic disorder,” said study co-author Dr. G. Paul Amminger, a psychiatrist at the University of Melbourne in Australia. “Omega-3 fatty acids are basically a stigma-free and even longer-term preventive strategy with minimal associated risks and side effects.”
However, the study was relatively small, so follow-up work is needed to confirm the findings, Amminger said.
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