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EPA is an antidepressant

EPA is an antidepressant
Curcumin may be just as effective an antidepressant as fluoxetine, we reported not long ago. Well, what curcumin can do, EPA can do too, Toppform Oslo informed us via Twitter. [Link] According to a human study from 2008, a daily dose of 1 gram of EPA reduces depressive symptoms as quickly and as effective as a daily dose of 20 milligrams of fluoxetine.

The authors of the study are psychiatrists from Tehran University of Medical Sciences, who experimented with 60 people aged 20-59 years with severe and untreated depression. On the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale they scored 15 or higher.

The researchers divided the subjects into 3 groups. The subjects in one group were given a daily capsule with fluoxetine, the active ingredient in Prozac, for 8 weeks. The subjects in the second group received capsules containing ethyl-EPA, the subjects in the third group took both fluoxetine and EPA.

The researchers also used an ethyl EPA supplement from the Belgian Minami Nutrition. [] Minami made the supplements available, but did not sponsor the study.

In each group, 4 subjects dropped out. By the end of the 8 weeks, depressive symptoms in the fluoxetine and EPA groups had decreased equally. The subjects in the fluoxetine + EPA group did slightly better than the subjects in the first two groups.

EPA is an antidepressant

EPA is an antidepressant

Although the actions of ethyl EPA and fluoxetine were similar, their side effects were not. EPA had hardly any side effects, fluoxetine had quite a few.

Click on the table below for a larger version.

EPA is an antidepressant

Inflammatory cytokines such as interferon-gamma slow down enzymes in the brain that convert tryptophan into serotonin. [Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 2005;29:201-17.] In this way, inflammatory processes can lead to depression. [Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 2001; 25:767-80.]

Supplementation with EPA - other omega-3 fatty acids do not work well when it comes to depression, according to trials - inhibits the release of inflammatory substances, the researchers speculate.

"Although this study had some limitation including small sample size and lack of placebo group, the findings suggest that EPA is safe and effective as monotherapy as well as adjunctive treatment for unipolar major depressive episode", summarize the Iranians. "Because EPA is a dietary supplement it may be more acceptable to patients than antidepressants."

Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2008 Mar;42(3):192-8.

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