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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 49 (2007) 9, 639 - 648

Review article

The role of omega-3 fatty acids in the treatment of bipolar disorders: the current situation

C. Sempels, P. Sienaert

summary
background
There is great interest in the use of omega-3 fatty acids in the treatment of various psychiatric disorders. Epidemiological investigations show that a high consumption of omega-3 fatty acids is in inverse proportion to the prevalence of affective disorders.
aim To provide an overview of current research reports on the use of omega-3 fatty acids and bipolar disorders.
method Medline was searched with the following MeSH terms: 'mood disorders', 'affective disorders', 'bipolar disorders', 'fish oil', 'unsaturated dietary fats', 'omega-3 fatty acids', 'eicosapentaenoic acid', 'docosahexaenoic acid' and 'alpha-linolenic acid'.
results To date, articles have been published about four randomized controlled trials and one open-label study. Omega-3 fatty acids, when added to an existing psychopharmacological maintenance treatment for bipolar disorder, can have a slight beneficial effect on depressive symptoms. There is no clear evidence that this combination has a beneficial effect on manic symptoms.
conclusion Current data on the efficacy of docosahexaenoic acid (dha) and eicosapentaenoic acid (epa) in the treatment of bipolar disorder are insufficient for us to draw definite conclusions that can guide clinical practice. Further investigations are required into the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on the various phases of bipolar disorder.

keywords bipolar disorder, docosahexaenoic acids, eicosapentaenoic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, treatment