Food and Behaviour Research

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Eicosapentaenoic acid in treatment-resistant depression associated with symptom remission, structural brain changes and reduced neuronal phospholipid turnover.

Puri BK, Counsell SJ, Hamilton G, Richardson AJ, Horrobin DF. (2001) International Journal of Clinical Practice. 55(8) 560-3. 

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The n-3 essential fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) was added to the conventional antidepressant treatment of a treatment-resistant severely depressed and suicidal male patient with a seven-year history of unremitting depressive symptoms. The niacin skin flush test and cerebral magnetic resonance scanning were carried out at baseline and nine months later.

The addition of ethyl-EPA led to a dramatic and sustained clinical improvement in all the symptoms of depression, including a cessation of previously unremitting severe suicidal ideation, within one month. Symptoms of social phobia also improved dramatically.

During the nine-month period the volumetric niacin response increased by 30%, the relative concentration of cerebral phosphomonesters increased by 53%, and the ratio of cerebral phosphomonesters to phosphodiesters increased by 79%, indicating reduced neuronal phospholipid turnover. Registered difference images showed that the EPA treatment was accompanied by structural brain changes including, in particular, a reduction in the lateral ventricular volume.