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Depress Res Treat. 2011;2011:467349. doi: 10.1155/2011/467349. Epub 2010 Oct 27.

N-3 (omega-3) Fatty acids in postpartum depression: implications for prevention and treatment.

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1
Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Therapeutics, Kansas Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center, The University of Kansas Medical Center, MS-1018, 3901 Rainbow Boulevard., Kansas City, KS 66160, USA.

Abstract

A growing body of clinical and epidemiological evidence suggests that low dietary intake and/or tissue levels of n-3 (omega-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are associated with postpartum depression. Low tissue levels of n-3 PUFAs, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are reported in patients with either postpartum or nonpuerperal depression. Moreover, the physiological demands of pregnancy and lactation put childbearing women at particular risk of experiencing a loss of DHA from tissues including the brain, especially in individuals with inadequate dietary n-3 PUFA intake or suboptimal metabolic capabilities. Animal studies indicate that decreased brain DHA in postpartum females leads to several depression-associated neurobiological changes including decreased hippocampal brain-derived neurotrophic factor and augmented hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal responses to stress. Taken together, these findings support a role for decreased brain n-3 PUFAs in the multifactorial etiology of depression, particularly postpartum depression. These findings, and their implications for research and clinical practice, are discussed.

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