Omega-3 fatty acids and s-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAMe) reduced symptoms in depressed people who were taking—but not fully responding to—standard antidepressants, according to several new studies.
In a review of 30 clinical trials on omega-3 fatty acids in those with depression, researchers concluded that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) has a more complex role in nerve-cell health than doctors had known. Among the findings: In a four-month trial of 30 participants aged 18 to 65 with bipolar disorder who were taking standard antidepressants, those who also took a 9,600 mg combination of DHA plus eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) per day had significantly fewer episodes of severe mania and depression compared to placebo. In a 12-week trial, 70 participants with persistent depression took a placebo, 1,000 mg, 2,000 mg or 4,000 mg of EPA per day while continuing antidepressants. In the 1,000 mg EPA group, 69% reported depression symptoms decreased by at least 50% compared to 25% of those who took placebo. There were no significant improvements in the other two EPA groups. In an eight-week trial, participants with major depressive disorder who took a 3,300 mg combination of DHA plus EPA per day along with standard antidepressants slept better, were calmer and had better mood than those who took a placebo.
In another DHA study, researchers examined the part of the brain responsible for personality (orbitofrontal cortex) in 15 deceased people who had been clinically diagnosed with major depressive disorder. After adjusting for lifestyle and other factors, they found that DHA was the only fatty acid significantly lower—22% less on average—compared to 27 non-depressed deceased persons of matching ages.
In a six-week study on SAMe, 30 participants with significant depression who had not fully responded to Effexor, Paxil or Prozac added 800 mg of SAMe per day for the first two weeks, then 1,600 mg per day for the next four weeks. Half of all participants reported significantly fewer symptoms, including 43% whose depression symptoms subsided completely.