This work may not be copied, distributed, displayed, published, reproduced, transmitted, modified, posted, sold, licensed, or used for commercial purposes. By downloading this file, you are agreeing to the publisher’s Terms & Conditions.

Original Research

A Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trial of Omega-3 Fatty Acids as a Monotherapy for Adolescent Depression

Vilma Gabbay, MD; Rachel D. Freed, PhD; Carmen M. Alonso, MD; Stefanie Senger, PhD; Jill Stadterman, BA; Beth A. Davison, PhD; and Rachel G. Klein, PhD

Published: June 26, 2018

Article Abstract

Objective: Reports are mixed on the efficacy of omega-3 fatty acids (O3FA) for the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD), with only limited data in adolescents. The present trial aimed to investigate systematically the efficacy of O3FA as a monotherapy, compared to a placebo, in adolescents with MDD. Secondarily, we explored O3FA effects on anhedonia, irritability, and suicidality—all key features of adolescent MDD.

Methods: Fifty-one psychotropic medication-free adolescents with DSM-IV-TR diagnoses of MDD (aged 12-19 years; 57% female) were randomized to receive O3FA or a placebo for 10 weeks. Data were collected between January 2006 and June 2013. O3FA and a placebo were administered on a fixed-flexible dose titration schedule based on clinical response and side effects. The initial dose of 1.2 g/d was increased 0.6 g/d every 2 weeks, up to a maximum of 3.6 g/d. Clinician-rated and self-rated depression severity, along with treatment response, served as primary outcome measures. Additionally, we examined O3FA effects on depression-related symptoms, including anhedonia, irritability, and suicidality. Treatment differences were analyzed via intent-to-treat analyses.

Results: O3FA were not superior to a placebo on any clinical feature, including depression severity and levels of anhedonia, irritability, or suicidality. Additionally, response rates were comparable between treatment groups. Within-treatment analyses indicated that both treatments were associated with significant improvement in depression severity on self- (O3FA: t = -4.38, P < .001; placebo: t = -3.52, P = .002) and clinician (O3FA: t = -6.47, P < .001; placebo: t = -8.10, P < .001) ratings.

Conclusions: In adolescents with MDD, O3FA do not appear to be superior to placebo.

Trial Registration: identifier: NCT00962598

Volume: 79

Quick Links:

Continue Reading…

Subscribe to read the entire article


Buy this Article as a PDF