Food and Behaviour Research

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Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in patients with recurrent self-harm: Single-centre double-blind randomised controlled trial.

Hallahan B, Hibbeln JR, Davis JM, Garland MR. (2007) The British Journal of Psychiatry 190 118-122 The Royal College of Psychiatrists

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Abstract:

BACKGROUND:

Trials have demonstrated benefits of long-chain omega-3 essential fatty acid (n-3 EFA) supplementation in a variety of psychiatric disorders.

AIMS:

To assess the efficacy of n-3 EFAs in improving psychological well-being in patients with recurrent self-harm.

METHOD:

Patients (n=49) presenting after an act of repeated self-harm were randomised to receive 1.2 g eicosapentaenoic acid plus 0.9 g decosahexaenoic acid (n=22) or placebo (n=27) for 12 weeks in addition to standard psychiatric care. Six psychological domains were measured at baseline and end point.

RESULTS:

At 12 weeks, the n-3 EFA group had significantly greater improvements in scores for depression, suicidality and daily stresses. Scores for impulsivity, aggression and hostility did not differ.

CONCLUSIONS:

Supplementation achieved substantial reductions in surrogate markers of suicidal behaviour and improvements in well-being. Larger studies are warranted to determine if insufficient dietary intake of n-3 EFAs is a reversible risk factor for self-harm.