Effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on mood and emotional information processing in recovered depressed individuals

J Psychopharmacol. 2012 May;26(5):738-43. doi: 10.1177/0269881111424928. Epub 2011 Oct 16.


Beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids have been reported for several psychiatric disorders, particularly for depression. Association studies show a relationship between omega-3 intake and depression risk. Meta-analyses of clinical trials have shown a moderate effect of supplementation on depressive symptoms, but not on normal mood states. Few studies have investigated effects on cognition. The purpose of this study was to examine effects of omega-3 supplements on cognition and mood of recovered depressed individuals. Seventy-one participants were randomized to receive either omega-3 or placebo for four weeks in a randomized double-blind design. Results showed small effects of omega-3 supplementation on aspects of emotional decision-making and on self-reported states of depression and tension. Some of the effects were confounded by learning effects. No significant effects were observed on memory, attention, cognitive reactivity and depressive symptoms. While inconclusive, the present findings may indicate that omega-3 supplementation has selective effects on emotional cognition and mood in recovered depressed participants.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect / drug effects*
  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Decision Making
  • Depression / drug therapy*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Emotions / drug effects*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Young Adult


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3