Date of Award
Selective Evidence-Based Medicine Review
Master of Science in Health Sciences - Physician Assistant
John Cavenagh, PhD, PA-C
OBJECTIVE: The objective of this selective EBM review is to determine whether or not n-3 fatty acids have an effect on depressive symptoms post cardiovascular event in men and women ages 40 and older.
STUDY DESIGN: Systematic review of three English language random controlled trials published between 2011-2012.
DATA SOURCES: Two randomized controlled trials published after 2011 comparing the effects of n-3 fatty acid supplementation on depressive symptoms post cardiovascular event and one randomized controlled trial comparing n-3 fatty acid supplementation effects on depressive symptoms in elderly patients with diagnosed depression. The studies were obtained using the PubMed database.
OUTCOMES MEASURED: Depressive symptoms, assessed using the Geriatric Depression Scale, was the primary outcome measured in all three studies. In all studies patients depressive symptoms were measured with the GDS-15 before the trial of supplementation vs. placebo began, and then after the trial was over. Results were then compared before and after supplementation.
RESULTS: The results of these studies show an insignificant decrease in depressive symptoms of patients supplemented with n-3 fatty acids post cardiovascular event vs. a placebo. However, one study showed the potential for n-3 fatty acid supplementation in depressed elderly patients unrelated to cardiovascular events with a decrease in depressive symptoms after supplementation.6 One subgroup in the study by Andreeva and colleagues reported an increase in depressive symptoms in men who were supplemented n-3 fatty acids for the trial.4
CONCLUSIONS: Based on these studies, the use of n-3 fatty acids for decreasing depressive symptoms in post-cardiovascular events can not be justified. Andreeva and colleagues, as well as Giltay and colleagues, both showed no significant difference in depressive symptoms in patients post-cardiovascular event supplemented with n-3 fatty acids assessed by the GDS-15.4,5 However, Tajalizadekhoob et al. showed n-3 fatty acid supplementation in elderly patients with diagnosed depression does in fact improve their depressive symptoms with a NNT of 8. 6 Although the total patient number of this study was small, further investigation should continue as this proves there is lead way for the use of n-3 fatty acids for their effect in depression.
Caton, Lindsey G., "Do N3 Fatty Acid Supplements Effect Depressive Symptoms Post Cardiovascular Event in Men and Women Ages 40 and Older?" (2014). PCOM Physician Assistant Studies Student Scholarship. 155.