Effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on psychophysiological symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in accident survivors: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

J Affect Disord. 2017 Dec 15;224:27-31. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2016.05.054. Epub 2016 May 30.

Abstract

Background: Psychophysiological symptoms (e.g., pounding heart) are known to be a prominent feature of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Although omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have a beneficial potential pharmacological effect of preventing these psychophysiological symptoms, no clinical data is yet available. Therefore, we conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of Japanese accident survivors.

Methods: A total of 83 participants received either omega-3 PUFAs (1470mg docosahexaenoic acid and 147mg eicosapentaenoic acid per day) or placebo within 10 days of the accidental injury. After 12-week supplementation, participants performed script-driven imagery of their traumatic event during monitoring of their heart rate and skin conductance.

Results: Analysis revealed that heart rate during both rest and script-driven imagery was significantly lower in the omega-3 group than the placebo group, whereas baseline heart rate was comparable between the two groups.

Limitations: The present trial was conducted at a single-center in Japan and psychophysiological symptoms of PTSD in most participants were not serious.

Conclusion: These findings suggest that post-trauma supplementation of omega-3 PUFAs might be effective for the secondary prevention of psychophysiological symptoms of PTSD.

Keywords: Arachidonic acid; Autonomic nerve; Aversive memory; Fish oil; Physiologic measures; n-3.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Accidents / psychology
  • Adult
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / therapeutic use
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Psychological Tests
  • Secondary Prevention / methods
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / drug therapy*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / physiopathology
  • Survivors / psychology*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult

Substances

  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid