Omega-3 fatty acids in major depressive disorder

J Clin Psychiatry. 2009;70 Suppl 5:7-11. doi: 10.4088/JCP.8157su1c.02.


Patients with major depressive disorder have high rates of cardiovascular disease and other medical comorbidity. Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly those found in fish and seafood, have cardiovascular health benefits and may play an adjunctive role in the treatment of mood disorders. However, existing studies on omega-3 fatty acids in depression have limitations such as small sample sizes and a wide variance in study design, and results regarding efficacy are mixed. The preponderance of data from placebo-controlled treatment studies suggests that omega-3 fatty acids are a reasonable augmentation strategy for the treatment of major depressive disorder. More research is necessary before omega-3 supplements can be recommended as monotherapy for the treatment of depression. For many individuals with major depressive disorder, augmentation with omega-3 fatty acids should be considered, as general health benefits are well established and adjunctive use is low risk.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Clinical Trials as Topic / statistics & numerical data
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / therapeutic use*
  • Fish Oils / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fish Oils