For people at extremely high risk of psychosis, taking fish oil supplements may help cut the odds of developing psychotic disorders. That's the finding of a new study that focused on 81 individuals at "ultra-high risk" for psychosis (defined as a loss of contact with reality). All participants had mild psychotic symptoms, transient psychosis, or a family history of psychotic disorders, in addition to a decrease in functioning.
For 12 weeks, 41 of the study members took daily fish oil supplements containing 1.2 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, while the other 41 participants took a placebo. By the end of the study, two percent of those taking fish oil supplements had transitioned to a psychotic disorder, compared to 27.5 percent in the placebo group. The supplements also appeared to significantly reduce symptoms and improve functioning.
It's possible that omega-3 fatty acids could have a positive effect on chemical signaling in the brain, according to the study's authors. Although it's too soon to recommend the use of fish oil supplements to reduce psychosis risk, the authors note that intervention with at-risk individuals has "the potential to prevent full-blown psychotic disorders."