Treatment with Omega-3 supplements is effective for patients with major depression, who do not have anxiety disorders, according to a new study.
The study directed by Dr. François Lesperance of the Centre de recherche du Centre hospitalier at the Universite de Montreal (CRCHUM), was the largest of its kind ever conducted assessing Omega-3's efficacy in treating major depression.
Initial analyses failed to clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of Omega-3 for all patients taking part in the study.
Efficacy for these patients was comparable to that generally observed with conventional antidepressant treatment.
From October 2005 to January 2009, 432 male and female participants with major unipolar depression were recruited to take part in this randomized, double-blind study (neither patients nor researchers knew which capsules patients received).
The aim was to assess the value of Omega-3 supplementation in a group of individuals more like those treated in outpatient clinics.
Epidemiological and neurobiological studies have suggested that a relative deficit in polyunsaturated fatty acids of the Omega-3 group may predispose individuals to psychological disorders such as depression.
Further, several preliminary clinical studies based on small numbers of patients have suggested that Omega-3 supplements with high concentrations of EPA can help to reduce symptoms of depression among patients who fail to respond to an initial antidepressant treatment.
However, these studies have not convinced the entire scientific community.
"We are proud that OM3 Emotional Balance, with its high concentration of EPA at unexcelled levels of purity delivers the dose of EPA needed for effective treatment," said Claire Bertin, head pharmacist for isodisnatura, the laboratory producing the Omega-3 supplement used in the study.
These encouraging results show that use of EPA is effective among patients with unipolar depression unaccompanied by an anxiety disorder.
Additional research directly comparing Omega-3 with conventional antidepressants could more clearly confirm their usefulness for patients suffering from depression.
The study was published in the online Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.