Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Mood Disorders

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Journal: American Journal of Psychiatry, 2006 June; 163(6):969-78 Authors and Affiliation: Parker G, Gibson NA, Brotchie H, Heruc G, Rees AM, Hadzi-Pavolivic D. School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, and Black Dog Institute, Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney, NSW 2031, Australia. g.parker@unsw.edu.au PMID: 16741195

Objective: This article is an overview of epidemiological and treatment studies suggesting that deficits in dietary-based omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids may make an etiological contribution to mood disorders and that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids may provide a therapeutic strategy.

Method: Relevant published studies are detailed and considered.

Results: Several epidemiological studies suggest covariation between seafood consumption and rates of mood disorders. Biological marker studies indicate deficits in omega-3 fatty acids in people with depressive disorders, while several treatment studies indicate therapeutic benefits from omega-3 supplementation. A similar contribution of omega-3 fatty acids to coronary artery disease may explain the well-described links between coronary artery disease and depression.

Conclusions: Deficits in omega-3 fatty acids have been identified as a contributing factor to mood disorders and offer a potential rational treatment approach. This review identifies a number of hypotheses and studies for consideration. In particular, the authors argue for studies clarifying the efficacy of omega-3 supplementation for unipolar and bipolar depressive disorders, both as individual and augmentation treatment strategies, and for studies pursuing which omega-3 fatty acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) or docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), is likely to provide the greatest benefit.

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