Initial analyses failed to clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of omega-3 for all patients taking part in the study. Further analyses however revealed that omega-3 supplement improved depression symptoms in patients diagnosed with depression unaccompanied by an anxiety disorder. In fact, effectiveness for these patients was comparable to that generally observed with conventional antidepressant treatment.
From October 2005 to January 2009, over 400 male and female participants with major depression were recruited to take part in a randomized, double blind study.
For eight weeks, half of the participants took three capsules per day of a fish oil supplement containing high concentrations of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid. The other half took three identical capsules of a placebo consisting of sunflower oil, flavoured with a small quantity of fish oil.
Researchers found a clear benefit of omega-3 supplementation among patients with depressive symptoms who didn't have other anxiety disorders.
Not surprisingly, epidemiological and neurobiological studies have suggested that a relative deficit in polyunsaturated fatty acids of the omega-3 group may predispose individuals to psychological disorders such as depression.
The findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
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