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Ann Clin Psychiatry. 2000 Sep;12(3):159-65.

Omega-3 fatty acids in psychiatry: a review.

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University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Biological Psychiatry Program, OH 45267-0559, USA.


Omega-3 fatty acids are long-chain, polyunsaturated fatty acids found in plant and marine sources. Unlike saturated fats, which have been shown to have negative health consequences, omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that have been associated with many health benefits. Omega-3 fatty acids may prove to be efficacious in a number of psychiatric disorders. Mood disorders have been associated with abnormalities in fatty acid composition. Several lines of evidence suggest that diminished omega-3 fatty acid concentrations are associated with mood disorders. Clinical data are not yet available regarding omega-3 fatty acids in the treatment of major depression. However, one double-blind treatment trial has been conducted in bipolar disorder. Also, substantial evidence does exist supporting a potential role of omega-3 fatty acids in schizophrenia, although treatment data are needed. A case has been reported in which a patient with schizophrenia was successfully treated with omega-3 fatty acids. Controlled studies are necessary to explore the potential treatment of schizophrenia with omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids may also be helpful in the treatment of dementia. Furthermore, omega-3 fatty acids may prove to be a safe and efficacious treatment for psychiatric disorders in pregnancy and in breastfeeding.

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