A Meta-Analytic Review of Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trials of Antidepressant Efficacy of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
J Clin Psychiatry 2007;68(7):1056-1061
© Copyright 2015 Physicians Postgraduate Press, Inc.
Purchase This PDF for $40.00
If you are not a paid subscriber, you may purchase the PDF.
(You'll need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.)
Receive immediate full-text access to JCP. You can subscribe to JCP online-only ($86) or print + online ($156 individual).
With your subscription, receive a free PDF collection of the NCDEU Festschrift articles. Hurry! This offer ends December 31, 2011.
If you are a paid subscriber to JCP and do not yet have a username and password, activate your subscription now.
As a paid subscriber who has activated your subscription, you have access to the HTML and PDF versions of this item.
Click here to login.
Did you forget your password?
Still can't log in? Contact the Circulation Department at 1-800-489-1001 x4 or send email
Objective: Evidence has indicated an association between depression and low dietary intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). However, clinical trials examining the therapeutic benefit of omega-3 PUFAs in depression showed inconsistent results. The goal of this study is to systematically evaluate the antidepressant efficacy of omega-3 PUFAs by using meta-analytic method.
Data Sources: MEDLINE, Embase, and PsycINFO databases were searched from 1966 through August 2006 using the key words (depression OR depressive disorder OR mood disorder) AND (omega-3 OR EPA OR DHA OR polyunsaturated fatty acid OR fish oil). The search was limited to literature in English and clinical trials.
Study Selection: Ten double-blind, placebo-controlled studies in patients with mood disorders receiving omega-3 PUFAs with the treatment period lasting 4 weeks or longer were included.
Data Extraction: Effect size (ES) of each individual study was derived by computing the standardized mean difference. A random-effects model was used to pool the ESs of all included studies.
Data Synthesis: When pooling the results of 10 included studies (N = 329), we found a significant antidepressant effect of omega-3 PUFAs (ES = 0.61, p = .003). Likewise, omega-3 PUFAs significantly improved depression in patients with clearly defined depression (ES = 0.69, p = .002) or with bipolar disorder (ES = 0.69, p = .0009). The dosage of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) did not change the antidepressant efficacy significantly. However, significant heterogeneity among these studies and publication bias were noted.
Conclusions: Although our meta-analysis showed significant antidepressant efficacy of omega-3 PUFAs, it is still premature to validate this finding due to publication bias and heterogeneity. More large-scale, well-controlled trials are needed to find out the favorable target subjects, therapeutic dose of EPA, and the composition of omega-3 PUFAs in treating depression.