High omega-6 and low omega-3 fatty acids are associated with depressive symptoms and neuroticism

Psychosom Med. 2007 Dec;69(9):932-4. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e31815aaa42. Epub 2007 Nov 8.


Objective: To examine the concentrations of omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids in serum obtained from nonpatient community volunteers not selected for hypercholesterolemia. Previously we reported that the relative concentrations of omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids in serum covary with depressive symptomatology and neuroticism in hypercholesterolemic adults.

Methods: A total of 116 adults without current Axis I psychopathology completed the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and the NEO Personality Inventory--Revised (NEO-PI-R). Fasting serum phospholipid eicosapentaenoic (EPA), docosahexaenoic (DHA), and arachidonic acid (AA) were determined (% of total pool).

Results: Higher AA and AA:EPA ratio, adjusted for age, gender, and race, were associated with greater depressive symptomatology (BDI score of >or=10). Lower EPA, and higher AA, AA:EPA ratio and AA:DHA ratio were associated with greater NEO-PI-R Neuroticism. The six Neuroticism subscales were each associated with two or more fatty acid measurements.

Conclusions: In conjunction with other reports, these findings suggest that the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are related to negative affect at both the symptom and trait levels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arachidonic Acid / blood
  • Body Mass Index
  • Depression / blood*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / blood
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / blood
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / blood*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6 / blood*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurotic Disorders / blood*
  • Neurotic Disorders / psychology
  • Personality Inventory
  • Reference Values
  • Regression Analysis
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6
  • Triglycerides
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Arachidonic Acid
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid