Do Omega-3s have some benefit to sufferers of bipolar disorder and/or depression?

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Dear R,

The early study in 1999 by Dr. Andrew Stoll and colleagues’ indicated that daily supplementation with very high levels of EPA + DHA (9.6 g combined per day with an EPA:DHA ratio of approximately 2:1) provided a statistically-significant benefit to patients with bipolar disorder. A few other studies have since been reported using varying doses of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation (with more EPA than DHA). Some of the studies have indicated a significant benefit whereas others have shown no beneficial effect. Since no direct comparisons have been made via clinical trials with EPA-enriched supplements vs. DHA-enriched supplements, it is not possible to make an evidence-based conclusion on the potential efficacy of DHA when directly compared with EPA. Such direct trials of EPA vs. DHA and mixes thereof at varying doses and for varying durations in patients with bipolar disorder would be of utmost interest before concrete clinical recommendations can be provided via the psychiatric medical community. Individuals with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder should, of course, seek counseling from their psychiatrist and medical team including a discussion on the potential use of EPA/DHA supplementation. It is noted that the Food and Drug Administration in the US consider up to 3000 mg of EPA/DHA (combined) from all sources to be generally safe for the majority of the healthy adult population.