An open trial of Omega-3 fatty acids for depression in pregnancy

Marlene P. Freeman*, Joseph R. Hibbeln, Katherine L. Wisner, Marcy Watchman, Alan J. Gelenberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Objective: In this flexible-dose, open-label trial, we examined the efficacy of omega-3 fatty acids for the treatment of depression during pregnancy. Methods: Fifteen pregnant women with major depressive episodes participated. Subjects initially received two capsules per day [0.93 g of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)]; the dose could be increased by one capsule per day every 2 weeks to a maximal dose of 2.8 g. Subjects were assessed with the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) and Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD). Results: Average duration of participation in this treatment trial was 8.3 weeks (SD ± 7.1). Average final dose of EPA + DHA in this flexible dose trial was 1.9 g per day (±0.5). The mean reduction in EPDS scores was 40.9% (SD ± 21.9); the mean decrease in HRSD score was 34.1% (SD ± 27.1). Conclusions: This open trial provides data to support the need for randomized controlled dose-finding trials of omega-3 fatty acids in major depressive episodes during pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-24
Number of pages4
JournalActa Neuropsychiatrica
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2006


  • Fatty acids
  • Mood disorders
  • Nutrition
  • Omega-3
  • Postpartum
  • Pregnancy
  • Unipolar depression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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