For the love of happy milk

It is getting disgustingly hard for me to stop myself from skipping down the street, from humming in class, from tearing into the package of frosted shortbread cookies that I picked up for the boy.

The sun is shining, today is a day dedicated to romance and love, and I have no exams or papers due (today…).

Basically, life is good and I just can’t hide it. I’ve been smiling non-stop for nearly two days straight (even as I was studying about making public health policies…yeeesh…I guess what they say about sunshine making you happy is true).

When I told this to my pharmacy school friend he replied, “damn girl, does your milk have DHA in it?”

I responded, “why yes, my milk does indeed. Why?”

“Because docosahexaenoic acid has been shown to help alleviate symptoms of depression.” (Apparently he would have asked this question of me whether I said yes or no because he wanted to show off his super cool new knowledge…)

My first reaction was “Aww heck naw, I am not depressed” but upon reflection of my mood pre and post-drinking of DHA added to it, I realized that there has been a significant change. So I did some research and stumbled upon thisĀ abstract:

Geographic areas where consumption of DHA is high are associated with decreased rates of depression. DHA deficiency states, such as alcoholism and the postpartum period, also are linked with depression. Individuals with major depression have marked depletions in omega-3 FAs (especially DHA) in erythrocyte phospholipids compared with controls. These data suggest that DHA may be associated with depression, and the limited data available on supplementation with DHA or other omega-3 FAs seem to support the hypothesis that DHA may have psychotropic effects. Overall, the use of EFAs is promising, particularly in view of the many illnesses potentially treatable with these substances; however, larger, carefully designed studies are needed to establish whether DHA is an effective and safe antidepressant, mood stabilizer, or antipsychotic. A few preliminary trials of DHA are in progress, but no studies comparing DHA against placebo or against an established antidepressant have been carried out. Studies to address this issue are being developed at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Studies likely will require escalating doses of DHA, eventually reaching high levels so as to ensure that patients will avoid a potentially ineffective subclinical dose. Careful monitoring of dietary intake among subjects also will necessary because a high intake of omega-3-rich foods may confound results. Finally, large-scale, placebo-controlled, double-blind trials comparing the efficacy and safety of DHA against standard antidepressants are required before psychiatrists can recommend DHA therapy as effective and safe for the treatment of depression and other mood disorders. Given the popularity of self-medication by patients who already are taking marketed antidepressants, studies examining the use of DHA as an augmentor to standard antidepressants may answer whether DHA can occupy a niche as an augmenting agent for patients who have made a partial response or have not responded to conventional antidepressants. Considering that natural medications generally seem best for treating mild to moderate illness, the role of DHA as a therapy for minor and subsyndromal depression also should be considered. It is hoped that studies of these types will help to clarify some of the knowledge gaps outlined in this article.

Basically, it says that DHA and omega-3 fatty acids, in the right balance, can potentially help those with depression symptoms. Research is still fairly inconclusive, so as with any new medical news, take it with a grain of salt. I am not clinically depressed so I may see effects on my mood that are more pronounced than someone who is clinically depressed but I do find hope in studies like this.

{DHA is also wonderful for your brain, eyes, and heart! And helps little babies grow!}

As someone who will eventually be treating people who are taking prescription drugs or will need to be prescribed prescription drugs, I know the benefits of medicine. But if there is a solution that doesn’t involve popping a magic pill, I am all for it. Preventative medicine, natural remedies, and holistic medicine rock my socks because the people who practice it realize that taking a pill will not always solve a problem. Yes, in some cases it may be necessary to take a cholesterol lowering pill or an anti-depressant, but without the proper intervention (whether it be better diet/exercise or therapy, respectively) the pill cannot solve anything (and I realize I am leaving out many, many prescription drugs that some people may depend on but that is an entirely different post).

Okay, I am stepping off of my soap box now. Happy Valentine’s Day!!!!

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