Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Bipolar Disorder

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Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Bipolar Disorder

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Omega-3 fatty acids are found in marine or plant sources, such as fish oil and flaxseed oil. Preliminary studies suggest that people with bipolar disorder who take omega-3 fatty acids have a significantly longer period in which their mood is stable with no episodes of depression or mania (remission).1

There are few, if any, negative side effects of taking omega-3 fatty acids. Loose stools were reported most often. Researchers think that omega-3 fatty acids may block signals in the central nervous system that trigger depression and mania. But more research needs to be conducted before there is sufficient evidence that omega-3 fatty acids improve the course of bipolar disorder.2



  1. Lin PY, Su KP (2007). A meta-analytic review of double-blind, placebo-controlled trials for antidepressant efficacy of omega-3 fatty acids. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 68(7): 1056–1061.
  2. Montgomery P, Richardson AJ (2008). Omega-3 fatty acids for bipolar disorder. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (3).


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Donald Sproule, MD, CM, CCFP, FCFP - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Lisa S. Weinstock, MD - Psychiatry
Last Revised May 3, 2010

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