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Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Bipolar Disorder

Topic Overview

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in marine or plant sources, such as fish oil and flaxseed oil. A few studies suggest that adding omega-3 fatty acids to medicine (such as lithium) can help reduce the depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder in some people. Omega-3 fatty acids don't seem to have an effect on the manic symptoms of bipolar disorder. And omega-3 fatty acids alone are not a good treatment for bipolar disorder. They are not a replacement for medicine or other therapy used to treat bipolar disorder.1, 2

There are few, if any, negative side effects from omega-3 fatty acids. Loose stools are reported most often. Researchers think that omega-3 fatty acids help support the membranes of brain cells. This makes it easier for the cells to send signals to one another, which may make depressive symptoms less likely.1

References

Citations

  1. Montgomery P, Richardson AJ (2009). Omega-3 fatty acids for bipolar disorder. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (1).
  2. Sarris J, et al. (2012). Omega-3 for bipolar disorder: Meta-analyses of use in mania and bipolar depression. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 73(1): 81–86.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Patrice Burgess, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Lisa S. Weinstock, MD - Psychiatry
Last Revised April 3, 2013

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