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Effects of 1-Year Treatment With Highly Purified Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Depression After Myocardial Infarction: Results From the OMEGA Trial

J Clin Psychiatry 2013;74(11):e1037-e1045
10.4088/JCP.13m08453

Objective: The effects of supplementation of the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) on prevalence and severity of depression were evaluated in patients after a myocardial infarction.

Method: A cross-sectional evaluation (posttest-only design) within the prospective, randomized, controlled, multicenter OMEGA trial was performed in patients after myocardial infarction at 12 months’ follow-up (N = 2,081; age, mean = 64 years; men, 76.7%; women, 21.8%) from April 2005 to June 2007. Patients received supplementation with ethyl esters 90 (460-mg EPA and 380-mg DHA) or placebo for 12 months. Depression was assessed with the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II); a BDI-II cutoff score of ≥ 14 was used as diagnosis of depression.

Results: When the total population was evaluated, no effects of EPA/DHA supplementation on depressive symptoms according to BDI-II score (mean [SD]) could be demonstrated: EPA/DHA (n = 1,046), 7.1 (6.9); placebo (n = 1,035), 7.1 (7.0); P = .7. The post hoc analyses of depressed patients with and without antidepressants revealed a tendency toward an antidepressant effect in patients with EPA/DHA supplementation as monotherapy: EPA/DHA (n = 125), 19.4 (5.8); placebo (n = 113), 19.9 (5.1); P = .07. However, in depressed patients with EPA/DHA supplementation as adjunctive to conventional antidepressants, a clinically relevant antidepressant effect was demonstrated: EPA/DHA (n = 33), 20.9 (7.1); placebo (n = 29), 24.9 (8.5); P < .05.

Conclusions: EPA/DHA supplementation in the total sample of patients after myocardial infarction had no effect on depressive symptoms. The clinically relevant antidepressant effect in the subgroup of depressed patients with EPA/DHA supplementation as adjunctive to conventional antidepressants that was revealed in the post hoc analysis might provide a basis for a controlled, prospective trial of omega-3 augmentation of antidepressants in patients after myocardial infarction.

Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT00251134

J Clin Psychiatry 2013;74(11):e1037–e1045

Submitted: March 2, 2013; accepted July 25, 2013 (doi:10.4088/JCP.13m08453).

Corresponding author: Reinhilde Zimmer, MD, Department of Psychiatry, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technical University of Munich, Meisenweg 7, DE-82237 Wörthsee, Germany (reinhilde.zimmer@lrz.tu-muenchen.de).