Omega-3 fatty acids in depression: A review of three studies – Source: CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics, Summer 2009

We review three studies of omega-3 fatty acids in the treatment of depression that were carried out by our research group at the Beer Sheva Mental Health Center.

The first study examined eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) versus placebo as an adjunct to antidepressant treatment in 20 unipolar patients with recurrent major depression.

The second study used omega-3 fatty acids in childhood major depression; 28 children aged 6-12 were randomized to omega-3 fatty acids or placebo as pharmacologic monotherapy.

The third study was an open-label add-on trial of EPA in bipolar depression. Twelve bipolar outpatients with depressive symptoms were treated with 1.5-2.0 g/day of EPA for up to 6 months.

• In the adult unipolar depression study, highly significant benefits were found by week 3 of EPA treatment compared with placebo.

• In the child study, an analysis of variance (ANOVA) showed highly significant effects of omega-3 on each of the three rating scales.

• In the bipolar depression study, 8 of the 10 patients who completed at least 1 month of follow-up achieved a 50% or greater reduction in Hamilton depression (Ham-D) scores within 1 month.

No significant side effects were reported in any of the studies.

Omega-3 fatty acids were shown to be more effective than placebo for depression in both adults and children in small controlled studies and in an open study of bipolar depression. (This review discusses three studies, all from our group, completed before the clinical trial registry was initiated.)

Source: CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics, Summer 2009; 15(2):128-33. PMID: 19499625, by Osher Y, Belmaker RH. Ministry of Health Beer Sheva Mental Health Center, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel. [E-mail:]

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One thought on “Omega-3 fatty acids in depression: A review of three studies – Source: CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics, Summer 2009”

  1. pain6294 says:

    This is very interesting to me, because just recently I have eliminated Omega-3 and some selenium from my regimen. The last few days the depression has been creeping in, when for a good while, I was fairly stable. I have been treated for dep for 12yrs. This is good reason to re-enter the omega-3 and selenium back to see what affect it will have. I have been on Cymbalta for aprox 2 1/2 yrs.
    Thank you for the article. L Hiatt

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