Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids for major depressive disorder

Expert Opin Investig Drugs. 2013 Dec;22(12):1519-34. doi: 10.1517/13543784.2013.836487. Epub 2013 Oct 2.


Introduction: Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 PUFAs) are not synthesized by the human body; they must be derived from dietary sources and they have been known to be involved with neurological, cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, autoimmune and metabolic diseases, and cognitive disorder as well as mood disorders.

Areas covered: A number of epidemiological and preclinical studies have proven the potential benefit and critical role of omega-3 PUFA in the development and management of major depressive disorder (MDD). In addition, recently independent clinical trials and meta-analyses have also provided superidority of omega-3 PUFA over placebo as monotherapy or augmentation agent in the treatment of MDD. This article presents a brief overview of the evidence to date about the clinical application and biological mechanisms of omega-3 PUFA in the treatment of MDD.

Expert opinion: Given the potential action mechanism, clinical benefits and currently available clinical trial data, omega-3 PUFAs may deserve greater attention and wider application for treatment of MDD. However, the practical utility of omega-3 PUFA as one of promising alternative agent for treatment of MDD still have many questions unresolved to be fully addressed in near future.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antidepressive Agents / pharmacology
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacology
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / therapeutic use*
  • Humans


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3