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Certain Formulations of Omega-3s Might Help With Depression
Date:12/9/2010

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Omega-3 fatty acids may help alleviate depression but only when a particular type of fatty acid called DHA is used in the right ratio with another fatty acid known as EPA, a new study suggests.

The researchers analyzed the results of some 15 previous controlled clinical trials on the use of omega-3s -- commonly found in oily fish or in fish oil supplements -- to treat depressed people.

They found that when used by itself, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) alone did not seem to offer any benefit. However, DHA combined with a rather high dose of EPA (eicosapentenoic acid) did improve depressive symptoms.

"Preparations with some EPA had some consistent antidepressant effects, while preparations of pure DHA had no antidepressant effects," said lead study author Dr. John Davis, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago. "I don't think we can prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt, but there is now evidence from a number of double-blind studies that suggest mixed DHA/EPA has antidepressant properties, whether by itself or given along with traditional antidepressants."

The study, funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, was designed as a meta-analysis, in which researchers combine the results of multiple prior studies. The findings were slated for presentation Thursday at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology meeting in Miami.

Davis noted the next step should be to test the anti-depressant effect of the omega-3 fatty acid combination in a large population to establish a dose range.

Prior research on the effectiveness of omega-3 fattys acids against depression has been mixed, with one recent randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial in the Journal of the American Medical Association, for example, concluding that taking 800 milligrams of DHA daily did not help ward off depression in
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Certain Formulations of Omega-3s Might Help With Depression
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