Omega-3 Supplementation Reduces Recurrent Depression in Elderly: On-site ISSFAL Conference Report (from Stockholm)

June 30, 2014


Effects of n-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Supplementation on Recurrence Prevention in Patients with Late-Life Depression
Chiu, C., Department of Psychiatry, Tapei City Psychiatric Center, Tapei City Hospital,Tawain
(The present report is filed on-site by the DHA/EPA Omega-3 Institute from the 11th Congress of the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids being held in Stockholm, Sweden)


The purpose of the present study was to determine if omega-3 supplementation could reduce the recurrence of depression in a geriatric patient population with a history of LLD (late-life depression). For this purpose, 89 patients (aged 60 years and over) with a previous diagnosis of major depressive disorder were randomly assigned to a daily supplement providing 1.8 grams EPA plus 1.3 grams DHA (omega-3 group) or a placebo (ie, with no EPA/DHA) for a period of 48 weeks. The subjects were assessed throughout this period (at 4,8,16,24,32,40.and 48 weeks) for the recurrence of depression based on major depressive episodes (assessed by DSM psychiatric evaluations) and by suicide scoring from the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale and by hospitalization due to depression during the study period. After adjusting for confounding factors, the recurrence of depression was reported to be 75 % lower in the EPA/DHA group relative to the placebo (control) group. Minor side effects such as occasional diarrhea were considered tolerable by the presenter (Dr. Chiu).

Dr. Holub's Comments:

The present study indicates a considerable reduction in the recurrence of depression in this elderly population who are prone to serious depressive episodes. Future studies will be of interest which test the potential benefits of varying doses of EPA/DHA and ratios thereof with longer follow-up durations. The daily intake (3.1 grams) of EPA/DHA in this study is essentially at the upper limit regarded as generally safe in the US whereas the upper overall limit set by Health Canada is 5 grams/day. Average daily intakes from a typical North American diet are approximately 120-150 mg/person/day.

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