Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Enhance Well-Being

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oil (and VRPs Ethyl EPA™), relieves symptoms of depression, including sadness, anxiety and insomnia, a recent study found.

Because levels of EPA are lower in depressed patients, researchers in England studied the antidepressant effect of ethyl-eicosapentaenoate in 70 patients who suffered from persistent depression despite ongoing treatment with an adequate dose of a standard antidepressant such as Zoloft or Prozac or tricyclic antidepressants.

In the double-blind, randomized study, patients received either a placebo or EPA at dosages of 1, 2, or 4 grams per day for 12 weeks. The researchers then evaluated the subjects based on three depression rating scales.

Forty-six, or 88%, of the 52 patients receiving ethyl-eicosapentaenoate and 14 (78%) of 18 patients taking the placebo completed the study. The subjects taking 1 gram per day of EPA experienced a significant improvement compared to the placebo group on all 3 rating scales used to measure depression. Nine of the 13 subjects (or 69%) receiving 1 gram of EPA daily achieved a 50 percent reduction in symptoms of depression. Subjects saw reduced anxiety, lassitude, and tendencies toward suicide and increased libido and improved sleep. Only 3 (25%) of 12 patients taking the placebo experienced an improvement. The subjects taking 2 and 4 grams of EPA saw similar benefits, but no greater improvement than those taking 1 gram per day. The researchers hypothesized that the lack of an additional benefit from higher dose EPA might be due to the small number of people who were treated with two or four grams per day. They called for further studies to see whether higher doses of EPA can have even more of a benefit than 1 gram.

The researchers concluded, Treatment with ethyl-eicosapentaenoate at a dosage of 1 g/day was effective in treating depression in patients who remained depressed despite adequate standard therapy.

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Peet M, Horrobin DF. A dose-ranging study of the effects of ethyl-eicosapentaenoate in patients with ongoing depression despite apparently adequate treatment with standard drugs. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2002 Oct;59(10):913-9.

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