Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation in Patients With Recurrent Self-Harm. Single-centre Double-Blind Randomised Controlled Trial

Br J Psychiatry. 2007 Feb;190:118-22. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.106.022707.

Abstract

Background: Trials have demonstrated benefits of long-chain omega-3 essential fatty acid (n-3 EFA) supplementation in a variety of psychiatric disorders.

Aims: To assess the efficacy of n-3 EFAs in improving psychological well-being in patients with recurrent self-harm.

Method: Patients (n=49) presenting after an act of repeated self-harm were randomised to receive 1.2 g eicosapentaenoic acid plus 0.9 g decosahexaenoic acid (n=22) or placebo (n=27) for 12 weeks in addition to standard psychiatric care. Six psychological domains were measured at baseline and end point.

Results: At 12 weeks, the n-3 EFA group had significantly greater improvements in scores for depression, suicidality and daily stresses. Scores for impulsivity, aggression and hostility did not differ.

Conclusions: Supplementation achieved substantial reductions in surrogate markers of suicidal behaviour and improvements in well-being. Larger studies are warranted to determine if insufficient dietary intake of n-3 EFAs is a reversible risk factor for self-harm.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / administration & dosage*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Recurrence
  • Risk Factors
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / prevention & control*
  • Treatment Outcome

Substances

  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid