Omega 3 Fatty Acids Prevent Psychotic Disorders
Schizophrenia and Fatty Acids
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I read an article that claimed women are frequently diagnosed with schizophrenia when there is a deficiency of EPA fatty acid. Comments?
— Dee, North Carolina
Schizophrenia is a complex and debilitating brain disorder, Dee, that is unfortunately often misunderstood. Its diagnosis is typically arrived at through a mental health assessment that includes a diagnostic interview, and possibly psychiatric testing. A medical history and physical exam can also help to confirm or rule out a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Although not necessary to make the diagnosis, brain imaging studies (such as a CT scan or an MRI) may also be done to evaluate the size, structure, and functioning of the brain, in light of evidence suggesting that the structure of the brain may be different in those who develop schizophrenia. Finally, the diagnosis of schizophrenia is made when an individual manifests at least two of the following symptoms, lasting for at least one month: hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech, grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior, negative symptoms (no emotion, inability to experience pleasure, difficulty concentrating), or problems functioning on the job or with other people.
Although I can’t speak to the specific article you read, there is a good deal of information regarding the relationship between EPA fatty acids and schizophrenia. Although there is some evidence that fatty acid metabolism is abnormal in individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia, this is not considered a diagnostic criterion. Furthermore, research has not yet shown any benefit of using omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids for the treatment of schizophrenia, so it continues to be considered experimental by most experts.
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