Posted on Mon, 14 May 18
Low-dose docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) could be of substantial benefit in severe depression, with 45% of people previously unresponsive to medication or psychotherapy achieving clinical remission.
A remarkable pilot study has suggested that DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid supplement typically derived from fish oil or algae, could help people with severe depression who are not responsive to typical treatment with drugs or psychotherapy.
In an 8-week open-label pilot trial, patients with major depressive symptoms who were non-responsive to medication or psychotherapy received either 260 mg or 520 mg per day of DHA in addition to their usual treatment.
At the end of the study, 54% of participants had a greater than 50% reduction in depression scores, and 45% were in remission.
This study is important because most studies of omega-3 fatty acids in depression have focused on eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), with relatively few examining DHA. Despite being a small open label trial with no placebo control, the clinical benefit was large and should encourage further research.
Smith DJ, Sarris J, Dowling N, O'Connor M, Ng CH. Adjunctive low-dose docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) for major depression: An open-label pilot trial. Nutr Neurosci. 2018 Apr;21(3):224-228.