BEER-SHEVA, ISRAEL. It is estimated that 2-4% of children suffer from major depressive disorder sometimes leading to substance abuse or suicide. Israeli researchers now report that fish oils are effective in relieving childhood depression. Their randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial involved 20 children (15 boys and 5 girls) between the ages of 8 and 12 years. The study participants were assigned to receive capsules containing either fish oil (providing 400 mg/day of EPA [eicosapentaenoic acid] and 200 mg/day of DHA [docosahexaenoic acid]) or a placebo (olive or safflower oil) for a total of 16 weeks.
After the first 4 weeks of supplementation the researchers noted that the children on fish oil had significantly improved their rating on the Childhood Depression Rating Scale (CDRS) with 7 out of 10 showing an improvement of greater than 50%. None of the children in the placebo group experienced a 50% or better improvement. Four of the 10 children in the fish oil group were classified as being no longer depressed whereas none of the children in the placebo group achieved this goal. The researchers conclude that fish oils may have therapeutic benefits in depression in children.
Nemets, Hanah, et al. Omega-3 treatment of childhood depression. American Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 163, June 2006, pp. 1098-1100