Blue and in perimenopause or menopause? Try omega-3s

My Hormonology

Blue and in perimenopause or menopause? Try omega-3s


Going through perimenopause (the few years leading up to menopause) or menopause (when monthly cycles cease) and feeling blue or mildly depressed?

This is a common issue caused by changing and falling estrogen levels. Estrogen impacts many of the brain’s mood-managing mechanisms–for example, helping it churn out certain certain chemicals, such as serotonin, improving blood flow, reducing inflammation and increasing the growth of healthy new brain cells.

So, when your estrogen level starts to fluctuate erratically and decrease overall, that impacts all those mood-affecting mechanisms. Some women are more sensitive to these changes than others, resulting in down feelings.

Banish the blues with healthy fats

What can you do if you’re bothered by the blues or mild depression? Try taking one gram of fish oil daily.

A 2009 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that this easy step improved the moods of perimenopausal and menopsausal women within eight weeks.(1)

Researchers credit the healthy omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil–eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)–which pitch in where estrogen falls short during this hormonally turbulent time, helping the brain to create more serotonin, reduce inflammation, improve blood flow and create other beneficial changes that improve mood.

As a bonus, fish oil decreased hot flash frequency by about half. It’s likely that when your mood is higher, stress is lower, which in turn helps curb hot flashes.

More than just blue?

If you’re experiencing severe depression and have thoughts of self-harm or suicide, talk with a qualified healthcare provider because this study found that fish oil alone likely won’t be enough.

However, research does show that taking fish oil with some antidepressants can increase their effectiveness. Talk with your doctor, nurse practitioner or pharmacist before combining them to find out which pairing works best.

Vegetarian or vegan?

Want the benefits of the omega-3 fatty acids that can boost your mood and keep hot flashes at bay, but don’t eat anything with a face? There are fish-free alternatives, such as those derived from marine algae. You can find them at your local health foods store.

Important: Before taking any new supplement, consult with your healthcare provider to ensure there are no conflicts with medicine you currently take, upcoming medical procedures and health issues.

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(1) “Ethyl-eicosapentaenoic acid for the treatment of psychological distress and depressive symptoms in middle-aged women: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial,” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, February 1, 2009,