Study Title:

Detection and Treatment of Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acid Deficiency in Adolescents with SSRI-Resistant Major Depressive Disorder.

Study Abstract

Residual depressive symptoms are commonly observed in adolescents with major depressive disorder (MDD) following treatment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). This study combined a case-control analysis and an open-label fish oil (FO) trial to investigate the relationship between long-chain omega-3 (LCn-3) fatty acid status and residual depressive symptoms in SSRI-resistant adolescent MDD patients. Baseline erythrocyte docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)(-28%, p=0.0003), but not eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)(-18%, p=0.2), was significantly lower in patients (n=20) compared with healthy controls (n=20). Patients receiving 10-week low-dose (2.4 g/d, n=7) and high-dose (16.2 g/d, n=7) FO exhibited significant increases in erythrocyte EPA and DHA composition. In the intent-to-treat sample, depressive symptoms decreased significantly in the high-dose group (n=7, -40%, p<0.0001), and there was a trend in the low-dose group (n=10, -20%, p=0.06). Symptom remission was observed in 40% of patients in the low-dose group and 100% of patients in the high-dose group. There were no significant changes in vital signs and adverse events were rated as mild or moderate in severity. These preliminary findings demonstrate that adolescents with SSRI-resistant depression exhibit robust DHA deficits, and suggest that adjunctive FO supplementation is well-tolerated and effective for increasing LCn-3 fatty acid status and augmenting SSRI antidepressant effects.


Adolescents; Docosahexaenoic acid; Eicosapentaenoic acid; Erythrocyte; Major depressive disorder (MDD); Omega-3 fatty acids

Study Information

PharmaNutrition. 2014 Apr 1;2(2):38-46.

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