EPA and DHA in childhood depression


The first study of omega-3 treatment in prepubescent childhood depression is presented below: For 16 weeks, patients received two 500 mg (190 mg EPA + 90 mg DHA/500 mg) or one 1,000 mg (400 mg EPA + 200 mg DHA/1,000 mg) capsules daily (the omega-3 group), or placebo (the placebo group). Mean age in the omega-3 group was 10.0 (8−12.0) and 10.3 in the placebo group (8−12.5). At the beginning and at 2, 4, 8, 12 and 16 weeks, they were evaluated using three scales: the Childhood Depression Rating Scale-CDRS, the Childhood Depression Inventory-CDI and the Clinical Global Impression-CGI. As monotherapy, omega-3 had highly significant therapeutic effects on symptoms:

  • Seven of 10 had a greater than 50% reduction in CDRS scores (compared with zero of 10 of the placebo group).
  • Four of 10 met the remission criteria (no subject in the placebo group met this criteria).
  • The CDI results were similar to those of the CDRS (being important “treatment group” and “time of treatment”).
  • And CGI results were also highly significant (idem).

There were no clinically relevant side effects reported.

Depressed children may show signs that are different from the typical adult symptoms of depression (may complain of feeling sick, refuse to go to or get into trouble at school, be negative or feel misunderstood, etc.) and frequently have coexisting problems such as poor psychosocial outcome, other health disorders and high risk of suicide and substance abuse. Given the chronic nature of depression, early intervention may help reduce future problems.


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