Fish oil, which contains omega-3 fatty acids, works as well for depression as Prozac. “We’ve been very impressed by the response rates we’ve observed,” says psychiatrist David Mischoulon. “We believe there is definitely something to these treatments.” Maybe some of us are depressed because our ancestors lived near the sea, where they developed genes that thrive on fish. John McKenzie writes in that scientists first became interested in the fish factor when they noticed that countries with the highest fish consumption had the lowest rates of depression. Also, mothers in the U.K. who ate little fish during their pregnancies doubled their risk of postpartum depression, compared to women who ate fish regularly.

Researchers found that when they fed omega-3 fatty acids to piglets, it had the same effect on their brains as Prozac, raising their serotonin levels. “After only 18 days, those animals that were fed the enriched formula had double the level of serotonin in their frontal cortex, in the part of the brain that regulates depression and impulsivity,” says NIH investigator Joseph Hibbeln. “The body cannot manufacture [it] so it has to get it from our diet.”

Researchers now want to know if it’s also useful in treating schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and violent behavior. Maybe we have so many ADD kids because we don’t feed them enough fish.

William Henry tells us that many ancient cultures had legends about their ancestors coming from the sea.

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