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Trials of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Treatment of Adult and Adolescent Depression - Recruiting in Boston and Los Angeles

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By • • August 29, 2008

Two U.S. medical centers with major depression research programs are recruiting for trials of omega-3 fish oil supplementation - the first for adults ages 18 to 80, and the second for young people ages 12 to 21.

1. Trial of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Treatment of Depression - Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston

This 8-week, phase III supplementation study - Safety and Effectiveness of Omega 3-Fatty Acids, EPA Versus DHA, for the Treatment of Major Depression - is recruiting men and women ages 18 to 80 diagnosed with current major depressive disorder. (Note: This is one of seven depression studies currently underway at the Depression Clinical Research Program at Mass General. To read about others, click here.)

All patients taking part in the study will also receive 3 months of free follow-up care.

According to the study description:
This research study examines the difference in the effectiveness of two natural compounds, eicosapentanoic (EPA) and docosahexanoic (DHA) omega-3 fatty acids, in treating major depressive disorder. Both types of omega-3 fatty acids are commonly found in fish oils, such as salmon, mackerel and tuna, as well as other marine sources. It is believed that a deficiency in these omega-3 fatty acids may lead to the development of major depression.

The research study lasts for 8 weeks and involves 4 visits after the screen and baseline visits (every two weeks). If eligible, participants will be randomly placed into one of three groups:

• People in the first group will take 1g/day of EPA omega-3 fatty acid,

• Those in the second group will take 1 g/day of DHA omega-3 fatty acid, and those in the third group will take a placebo (a sugar-like pill with no active ingredient).

This research study is double-blind, which means that neither you nor the doctor nor any of the research staff will know which group you are in.

At the end of this 8-week period you will be offered 3 months of follow-up care at no cost to you at the Depression Clinical and Research Program.

If interested, please contact Dan Johnson at or at 617-724-3673

For more details, read the listing for this trial (No. NCT00361374)

* * * *

2. Trial of Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Treatment of Depression in Adolescents (Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids - PUFA) - Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles

The aim of this study is to test the benefit of a combination of cognitive behavior therapy and fish oil supplementation versus cognitive behavior therapy and placebo in adolescents diagnosed with major depression.

The study, conducted by Cedars-Sinai’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, is recruiting patients of both sexes, ages 12 to 21. Patients currently being treated effectively with antidepressants will not be eligible.

According to the study description:

Adolescence is the highest risk period for depression onset. More than 1.3 million youths suffer from major depression annually in the United States, and there is evidence for an increasing trend.

Because many adolescents have their first depressive episode in adolescence, and adolescent depression often leads to recurrent mood disorders in adults, effective treatment during early illness can minimize the negative consequences of initial and repeated episodes.

Although some antidepressants (particularly SSRIs) are effective treatments for juvenile depression, recent warnings about suicide and the use of SSRIs highlight the need for new and safe treatment for juvenile depression.

Data in adults suggest that supplementation with polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) might be useful for the treatment of depression. The purpose of this study is to investigate the safety and efficacy of PUFA for the treatment of adolescent depression.

Contact Information: Lana Levi, 310-423-0744,

For more detail, read the Clinical listing for this study - Treating Adolescent Depression with Fish Oils (No. NCT00658476).

To read about other depression trials at Cedars-Sinai, and their “Treatment-Resistant Depression Registry,” click here.

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