Despite intriguing findings that omega-3 fatty acid supplements could alleviate depression symptoms, there is still not enough evidence to say whether omega-3s are useful treatments for people with bipolar disorder, according to a review of recent studies.
Nevertheless, omega-3s deserve further study, since they seem to have no serious side effects and most experts recommend the supplements for people with heart disease and some immune disorders, said authors Paul Montgomery, Ph.D., and Alex Richardson, Ph.D., of the University of Oxford.
Montgomery and Richardson found five studies on the effects of omega-3 supplements for bipolar disorder, but only one study of 75 patients provided enough data on the therapy’s outcomes for the researchers to analyze. Patients in the study had less severe depression symptoms while taking the supplements, but omega-3s did not affect their mania symptoms. Patients with bipolar disorder can cycle between periods of mania – elevated mood and energy – and depression.
The review of studies appears in the latest issue of The Cochrane Library.
Paul Montgomery said the review makes it clear that there is not enough evidence yet to determine how omega-3s affect bipolar disorder, “and what evidence is currently available is of such a varied and oftentimes questionable nature that no reliable conclusions may be drawn.”
Joseph Hibbeln, M.D., who heads the nutritional neurochemistry division of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, said he and his colleagues “strongly recommend” that patients with psychiatric disorders not take omega-3 supplements “in lieu of established psychiatric treatment options.”
Source: Center for the Advancement of Health, USA