Hallahan B, Hibbeln JR, Davis JM, Garland MR. (2007) The British Journal of Psychiatry 190 118-122 The Royal College of Psychiatrists
Trials have demonstrated benefits of long-chain omega-3 essential fatty acid (n-3 EFA) supplementation in a variety of psychiatric disorders.
To assess the efficacy of n-3 EFAs in improving psychological well-being in patients with recurrent self-harm.
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.
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.
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.