Brief Intervention with EPA/DHA Supplementation Found to Reduce Progression to Psychotic Disorder

August 24, 2015

Reference:

Longer-term Outcome in the Prevention of Psychotic Disorders by the Vienna Omega-3 Study
Amminger, G. P. et al., Nature Communications , in press , 2015
The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, The University of Melbourne, Australia, and the Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria

Summary:

Previous studies have indicated that young individuals in the so-called ‘at-risk mental state’ are at particularly high risk for progressing towards developing a serious psychotic disorder within a three-year period. Previous research by this particular group of investigators indicated that a 12-week intervention with omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in at-risk young people with sub-threshold psychotic states could reduce progression to psychotic disorder over a 12-month period. The resent report from this group gives their clinical findings when these subjects were followed for an extended interval of 6.7 years.

A total of 81 treatment-seeking subjects (aged 13-25 years and average age overall of 16 years at entry) were included in the trial who exhibited attenuated psychotic symptoms, transient psychosis , or other relevant symptomology. A total of 41 subjects were assigned to the omega-3 group (given 700 mgm EPA plus 480 mgm DHA daily – total EPA/DHA of 1180 mgm/day) and 40 to the ‘placebo’ group (no supplemental EPA/DHA). The subjects were clinically assessed (using various psychiatric measures) at entry, during the 12-week intervention period wherein they received daily supplementation with EPA/DHA or ‘placebo’, and throughout the entire follow-up period of 6.7 years overall (with no omega-3 supplementation given after the initial 12-week period). The risk of the cumulative risk of progression from the at-risk state to psychotic disorder was found to be markedly reduced (by 30.2 %) for the omega-3 group relative to controls (‘placebo’ group). During the entire follow-up period, 16 of 40 individuals on ‘placebo’ developed a psychotic disorder whereas only 4 of 41 did so in the omega-3 group. Also, a more rapid conversion time was found for the ‘placebo’ group as compared to the omega-3 group. The authors also noted that the majority of the subjects in the omega-3 group did not show severe functional impairment and no longer experienced psychotic symptoms at follow-up.

Dr. Holub's Comments:

It is noted that the daily supplemental regimen (EPA plus DHA) in this study of 1180 mgm/day during the intervention period was approximately 10 – 20 times that of current dietary intakes in this age group across numerous countries (including North America). Attaining such intakes without supplementation is both challenging and possible. However, a much more frequent intake of fish/seafood rich in EPA.DHA would be needed along with selected foods/beverages enriched with EPA/DHA. Future intervention trials using differing levels and ratios of EPA/DHA in this particular population of subjects are needed.

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