No Proof Omega-3 Supplements Work For Depression

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There is insufficient evidence for whether Omega-3 fatty acid supplements are effective in treating major depressive disorder, according to research published in the Cochrane Library.

For this Cochrane Review, Katherine Appleton BSc, PhD, from the University of Bournemouth, England, and colleagues examined data from 26 randomized trials with a total of 1458 participants that investigated the effects of treating depression with either an Omega-3 fatty acid supplement pill or a placebo. One study with 40 participants also examined the impact of an Omega-3 fatty acid supplement compared with an anti-depression treatment.

The researchers found that while participants given the Omega-3 fatty acids did report lower symptom scores compared with participants with the placebo, the effect was small and there were limitations in the studies that undermined the results.

“We found a small-to-modest positive effect of Omega-3 fatty acids compared to placebo, but the size of this effect is unlikely to be meaningful to people with depression,” said Dr. Appleton. She also added that “we considered the evidence to be of low or very low quality. All studies contributing to our analyses were of direct relevance to our research question, but most of these studies are small and of low quality.”

The researchers concluded that there is currently not enough evidence to determine whether Omega-3 fatty acids supplements are effective for treating depression. Clinicians should therefore make sure that patients with depression are aware so they can make informed decisions about their treatment.

No Proof Omega-3 Supplements Work For Depression
Studies have found only small improvements in treating depression with Omega-3s and have been of low-quality.

New research out today concludes that there is insufficient evidence for the use of taking an Omega-3 fatty acid supplement in treating major depressive disorder.

Omega-3 fatty acids are widely thought to be essential for good health and are naturally found in fatty fish, such as tuna, seafood and some nuts and seeds.

More recently there have been various studies that have suggested a role for Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in treating major depressive disorder. Adults with major depressive disorders are characterized by depressed mood or a lack of pleasure in previously enjoyed activities for at least two weeks, in the absence of any physical cause, that impact on everyday life.

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