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Am J Psychiatry. 2006 Jun;163(6):969-78.

Omega-3 fatty acids and mood disorders.

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  • 1School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, and Black Dog Institute, Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney, NSW 2031, Australia.

Erratum in

  • Am J Psychiatry. 2006 Oct;163(10):1842.



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.


Relevant published studies are detailed and considered.


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.


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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