Omega-3 Prevents Conversion to Psychosis

Summary and Comment |
September 3, 2015

Omega-3 Prevents Conversion to Psychosis

  1. Barbara Geller, MD

A follow-up study lasting almost 7 years has robust findings in favor of supplementation.

  1. Barbara Geller, MD

In a randomized, placebo-controlled study of 81 teenagers and young adults at high risk for schizophrenia, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3) given for 12 weeks were associated with a significantly decreased risk for conversion to psychosis 12 months later (NEJM JW Psychiatry Apr 2010 and Arch Gen Psychiatry 2010; 67:146). The same research group has now conducted a follow-up study.

At a mean follow-up of 6.7 years, 88% of participants received comprehensive assessments via interviews or hospital records. Conversion to psychosis occurred in 10% of omega-3 recipients versus 40% of controls, and analyses assuming that drop-outs developed psychosis produced similar findings. Participants who received active treatment also showed significantly better psychosocial and psychopathology outcomes, and significantly fewer received antipsychotics (29% vs. 54% of controls).


These robust findings of a markedly lower conversion rate to psychosis in the omega-3 group strongly support instituting omega-3 supplementation in individuals at high risk for psychosis. The results add to similar reports for the benefits of omega-3 in multiple other psychiatric disorders (e.g., NEJM JW Psychiatry Nov 2014 and J Child Psychol Psychiatry 2015; 56:509)

Do these accumulating data support prescribing omega-3 supplements to all psychiatric patients? That approach would be consistent with dietary changes over past centuries that eventuated in progression from diets with an approximately 50:50 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 to current diets with 15:1 or 16:1 omega-6 to omega-3 ratios — that is, present-day diets are less healthy than those eaten by our distant ancestors (Biomed Pharmacother 2006; 60:502).

Editor Disclosures at Time of Publication

  • Disclosures for Barbara Geller, MD at time of publication Nothing to disclose


Reader Comments (4)

ARNOLD CHONG Physician, Retired

Label ratio of Omega-3/Omega-6 will be convenient for consumers.

Barbara Geller M.D. Physician, Psychiatry, Washington University in St. Louis
Competing Interests: Dr. Geller is the author of the JWP story.

Good idea to add the dose in this study. It was 700 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid and 480 mg of docosahexaenoic acid daily.

Victor Kantariya Physician, Family Medicine/General Practice

As far as the dose of Omega-3 is comcerned, in the Vienna Omega-3 study fish oil capsules were used (700mg of eicosapentaenoic acid and 480mg of docosahexaenoic acid daily). In an another double-blind, placebo-controlled trial Omega-3 supplementation (200mg of eicosapentaenoic acid and 300mg of docosahexaenoic acid daily)improved usually treatment-resistant childhood (aged 8-16years) conduct disorders (J Child Psychol Psychiatry 2014 Aug 22). Dr. Victor Kantariya, MD

ROBERT VANDIVER Physician, Psychiatry, commmunity psychiatry

It would be nice if you noted doses used in studies. That might actually be useful.

Your Comment

(will not be published)

Filtered HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Do you have any conflict of interest to disclose?
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Vertical Tabs

* Required

Reader comments are intended to encourage lively discussion of clinical topics with your peers in the medical community. We ask that you keep your remarks to a reasonable length, and we reserve the right to withhold publication of remarks that do not meet this standard.

PRIVACY: We will not use your email address, submitted for a comment, for any other purpose nor sell, rent, or share your e-mail address with any third parties. Please see our Privacy Policy.