A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid in the treatment of major depression

Am J Psychiatry. 2003 May;160(5):996-8. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.160.5.996.


Objective: This study was an evaluation of the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) for the treatment of major depression.

Method: Thirty-six depressed patients were randomly assigned to receive DHA, 2 g/day, or placebo for 6 weeks. Response was defined a priori as a > or =50% reduction in the score on the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale. Thirty-five participants were evaluable; 18 received DHA, and 17 received placebo.

Results: Response rates were 27.8% in the DHA group and 23.5% in the placebo group. The difference in response rates between groups did not reach statistical significance.

Conclusions: This trial failed to show a significant effect of DHA monotherapy in subjects with major depression.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / therapeutic use*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Placebos
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Placebos
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids