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Marine Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation for Borderline Personality Disorder: A Meta-Analysis

Dominika M. Karaszewska, BSca; Theo Ingenhoven, MD, PhDb; and Roel J. T. Mocking, MD, PhDa,b,*

Published: May 4, 2021


Objective: Several promising studies investigated marine omega-3 fatty acids (ie, fish oil) in borderline personality disorder (BPD), but overall effects remain unclear. The aim of this study was to obtain estimates of effectiveness of omega-3 fatty acids in BPD using meta-analysis, with a priori differentiation of affective, impulsive, and cognitive-perceptual symptom domains.

Data Sources: We performed a literature search in PubMed, EMBASE, PsycINFO, and MEDLINE, using terms related to BPD and omega-3 fatty acids. Publication date was not a restriction.

Study Selection: We included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that compared omega-3 fatty acids to placebo or any active comparator and pooled data using meta-analysis. Five studies were included in the meta-analysis, describing 4 RCTs testing effects of omega-3 fatty acids in 137 patients with BPD or BPD-related behavior.

Data Extraction: Using a pre-piloted data extraction form, we obtained data including intervention dose, duration, and BPD symptom scale scores, differentiating affective, impulsive, and cognitive-perceptual symptom domains.

Results: Random effects meta-analysis showed an overall significant decreasing effect of omega-3 fatty acids on overall BPD symptom severity (0.54 standardized difference in means [SDM]; 95% CI = 0.91 to 0.17; Z = 2.87; P = .0041), without heterogeneity (I2 = 0.00; Q = 2.63; P = .45). A priori differentiation of relevant symptom domains showed significant effects on affect dysregulation (0.74 SDM; 95% CI = 1.21 to 0.27; Z = 3.11; P = .002) and impulsive behavior (0.45 SDM; 95% CI = 0.84 to 0.059; Z = 2.26; P = .024). However, effects on cognitive-perceptual symptoms did not reach the significance threshold.

Conclusions: Available data indicate that marine omega-3 fatty acids improve symptoms of BPD, particularly impulsive behavioral dyscontrol and affective dysregulation. Marine omega-3 fatty acids could be considered as add-on therapy.

Volume: 82

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