Omega-3 fatty acids for depression in multiple sclerosis: A randomized pilot study

Lynne Shinto, Gail Marracci, David C. Mohr, Lauren Bumgarner, Charles Murchison, Angela Senders, Dennis Bourdette

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Multiple sclerosis is the most common chronic disabling disease in the central nervous system in young to middle aged adults. Depression is common in multiple sclerosis (MS) affecting between 50-60% of patients. Pilot studies in unipolar depression report an improvement in depression when omega-3 fatty acids are given with antidepressants. The objective of this study was to investigate whether omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, as an augmentation therapy, improves treatment-resistant major depressive disorder (MDD) in people with MS. We performed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of omega-3 fatty acids at six grams per day over three months. The primary outcome was a 50% or greater improvement on the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS). Thirty-nine participants were randomized and thirty-one completed the 3-month intervention. Improvement on MADRS between groups was not significantly different at the 3-month end point with 47.4%in the omega-3 fatty acid group and 45.5%in the placebo group showing 50% or greater improvement (p = 0.30). Omega-3 fatty acids as an augmentation therapy for treatment-resistant depression in MS was not significantly different than placebo in this pilot trial. Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation at the dose given was well-tolerated over 3 months.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0147195
JournalPloS one
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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