Long-chain n-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids Decrease Feelings of Anger in Substance Abusers

Psychiatry Res. 2008 Jan 15;157(1-3):95-104. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2007.01.004. Epub 2007 Sep 27.

Abstract

It has been suggested that low levels of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) play a role in the pathophysiology of some psychiatric disorders. In light of the existence of strong associations between high-frequency and high-severity aggressive behaviors and substance use disorders and of our observation that substance abusers have poor dietary habits, the possibility that the administration of supplements of n-3 PUFAs would decrease their anger levels was explored. A lifelong history of aggressive behaviors and problems with the law was obtained in 24 patients. Thirteen patients received on a daily basis capsules containing 3 g of n-3 PUFAs (EPA+DHA). Eleven patients received placebo capsules. The trial was double-blind, randomized, and lasted 3 months. An anger scale was administered at baseline and every month thereafter. Six PUFA group patients and eight placebo group patients were followed for an additional 3 months after treatment discontinuation. Four patients in each group had a history of assaultive behavior. The baseline fish and n-3 PUFA intakes of these eight patients were significantly lower than those of the non-aggressive patients. When given for 3 months, n-3 PUFAs were superior to placebo in diminishing anger scores. Scores remained decreased for 3 months following treatment discontinuation. These data provide further support for emerging evidence indicating that supplementation with long-chain n-3 PUFAs could be beneficial in the treatment of some individuals with aggressive tendencies.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aggression / drug effects*
  • Anger*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / pharmacology*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Expressed Emotion / drug effects*
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires

Substances

  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid