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Randomised double-blind placebo-controlled trial of fish oil in the treatment of depression.

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New Zealand Institute for Crop & Food Research, Private Bag 4704, Christchurch, New Zealand.


Converging evidence suggests that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids have aetiological importance in depression. To determine the effect of adding fish oil to existing therapy in participants who were being treated for depression in a community setting, 77 participants were randomly assigned to receive 8 g of either fish or olive oil per day in addition to their existing therapy. Fifty-nine (77%) participants completed 12 weeks of treatment. Dietary, biochemical and lifestyle factors were measured throughout the study. Mood was assessed using the Short Form Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS-SF) and the Beck Depression Inventory II. Sample size calculations were based on the HDRS-SF. Intention-to-treat and per protocol analyses were carried out using residual maximum likelihood. There was no evidence that fish oil improved mood when compared to the placebo oil, despite an increase in circulating omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. However, mood improved significantly in both groups within the first 2 weeks of the study (P<0.001) and this improvement was sustained throughout. In conclusion, fish oil was no more effective than the control as an add-on therapy for depression in this setting.

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[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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