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Br J Psychiatry. 2016 Sep;209(3):192-201. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.114.160242. Epub 2016 Apr 21.

Efficacy of omega-3 highly unsaturated fatty acids in the treatment of depression.

Author information

1
Brian Hallahan, MRCPsych, MD, Department of Psychiatry, Clinical Science Institute, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland; Timothy Ryan, BA, Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA; Joseph R. Hibbeln, MD, Section on Nutritional Neurosciences, Laboratory of Membrane Biochemistry & Biophysics, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health, Rockville, Maryland, USA; Ivan T. Murray, MRCPsych, Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital Galway, Galway, Ireland; Shauna Glynn, MRCPsych, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, Castlebar, Mayo, Ireland; Christopher E. Ramsden, MD, John Paul SanGiovanni, ScD, Section on Nutritional Neurosciences, Laboratory of Membrane Biochemistry & Biophysics, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health, Rockville, Maryland, USA; John M. Davis, MD, Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA brian.hallahan@nuigalway.ie.
2
Brian Hallahan, MRCPsych, MD, Department of Psychiatry, Clinical Science Institute, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland; Timothy Ryan, BA, Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA; Joseph R. Hibbeln, MD, Section on Nutritional Neurosciences, Laboratory of Membrane Biochemistry & Biophysics, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health, Rockville, Maryland, USA; Ivan T. Murray, MRCPsych, Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital Galway, Galway, Ireland; Shauna Glynn, MRCPsych, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, Castlebar, Mayo, Ireland; Christopher E. Ramsden, MD, John Paul SanGiovanni, ScD, Section on Nutritional Neurosciences, Laboratory of Membrane Biochemistry & Biophysics, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health, Rockville, Maryland, USA; John M. Davis, MD, Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Trials evaluating efficacy of omega-3 highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFAs) in major depressive disorder report discrepant findings.

AIMS:

To establish the reasons underlying inconsistent findings among randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of omega-3 HUFAs for depression and to assess implications for further trials.

METHOD:

A systematic bibliographic search of double-blind RCTs was conducted between January 1980 and July 2014 and an exploratory hypothesis-testing meta-analysis performed in 35 RCTs including 6665 participants receiving omega-3 HUFAs and 4373 participants receiving placebo.

RESULTS:

Among participants with diagnosed depression, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)-predominant formulations (>50% EPA) demonstrated clinical benefits compared with placebo (Hedge's G = 0.61, P<0.001) whereas docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)-predominant formulations (>50% DHA) did not. EPA failed to prevent depressive symptoms among populations not diagnosed for depression.

CONCLUSIONS:

Further RCTs should be conducted on study populations with diagnosed or clinically significant depression of adequate duration using EPA-predominant omega-3 HUFA formulations.

PMID:
27103682
DOI:
10.1192/bjp.bp.114.160242
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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