Omega-3 May Treat Depression in Patients With Inflammation

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A type of Omega-3 fatty acids typically recommended to patients with high cholesterol may also help boost mood in some depression patients.

Hyman Rapaport, MD, of the Emory University School of Medicine, and colleagues conducted a trial involving 155 participants with major depressive disorder where one group was given either two capsules containing the Omega-3 fatty acid EPA (eicosapentataenoic acid) or placebo over eight weeks. Another group was given four capsules of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), another type of Omega-3, or placebo.

In patients who had one of four markers of inflammation based on a blood test, those who took EPA capsules showed an improvement in mood, the researchers reported in the journal Molecular Psychiatry. The effect, however, was not seen in inflammatory patients who took DHA.

The findings follow the results of another study in which the biologic drug infliximab (Remicade), which is used to treat a number of inflammatory disorders, was effective in treating patients with treatment-resistant depression with high inflammation levels.

While the authors say the findings serve as a proof-of-concept that anti-inflammatory drugs can be used to treat a subpopulation of people with depression, they warn that such medications are ineffective and potentially harmful in those with depression who don’t have signs of inflammation.

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Omega-3 May Treat Depression in Patients With Inflammation

In a study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, researchers found that the omega-3 fatty acid EPA (eicosapentataenoic acid) appears to boost mood in a subgroup of patients with major depressive disorder who have high inflammation levels.

In a randomized trial, 155 participants were given either two capsules containing EPA-enriched mix or a placebo, or four capsules of a DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)-enriched mix or four placebo capsules for eight weeks. All participants were previously diagnosed with major depressive disorder.

EPA was found to be effective for a group of patients who had high levels of at least one of four markers of inflammation in their blood. DHA was not effective for this group of patients.

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