Food and Behaviour Research

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Omega-3 fatty acids decreased irritability of patients with bipolar disorder in an add-on, open label study

Sagduyu, K., Dokucu, M.E., Eddy, B.A., Craigen, G., Baldassano, C.F., Yildiz, A.  (2005) Nutrition Journal  4  6 

Web URL: View the full text of this article on open access here


This is a report on a 37-patient continuation study of the open ended, Omega-3 Fatty Acid (O-3FA) add-on study.

Subjects consisted of the original 19 patients, along with 18 new patients recruited and followed in the same fashion as the first nineteen. Subjects carried a DSM-IV-TR diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder and were visiting a Mood Disorder Clinic regularly through the length of the study.

At each visit, patients' clinical status was monitored using the Clinical Monitoring Form. Subjects reported on the frequency and severity of irritability experienced during the preceding ten days; frequency was measured by way of percentage of days in which subjects experienced irritability, while severity of that irritability was rated on a Likert scale of 1 - 4 (if present).

The irritability component of Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS) was also recorded quarterly on 13 of the 39 patients consistently. Patients had persistent irritability despite their ongoing pharmacologic and psychotherapy.

Omega-3 Fatty Acid intake helped with the irritability component of patients suffering from bipolar disorder with a significant presenting sign of irritability.

Low dose (1 to 2 grams per day), add-on O-3FA may also help with the irritability component of different clinical conditions, such as schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder and other psychiatric conditions with a common presenting sign of irritability.


Supplementation with the long chain omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils (EPA/DHA at 1-2g per day) helped to reduce irritability in adults with bipolar disorder when used as an adjunct to standard treatment.

Importantly, this was an 'open' study, but similar findings have been reported from randomised, double-blind placebo controlled trials in bipolar disorder, as well as related conditions such as depression and schizophrenia.  See:

For more information on this topic, please see the following lists of articles, which are regularly updated.