Omega-3s Are Beneficial Add-on Therapy in Schizophrenia

Patients with first-episode schizophrenia may benefit from omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) as an add-on therapy, according to a randomized controlled study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.

Researchers conducted this study to clarify mixed results seen in previous studies of n-3 PUFA in schizophrenia. In most of these older studies, the intervention was 8–12 weeks and was based on ethyl-eicosapentaenoic acid (E-EPA).

The new study evaluated the efficacy of a 26-week intervention of either 2.2g/day of n-3 PUFA, or an olive oil placebo, at reducing symptom severity in 71 patients with first-episode schizophrenia.

A mixed-models analysis indicated that patients who received n-3 PUFA had significantly better scores of symptom severity on the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) than those who received placebo (effect size[EF]=0.29).

Compared with the placebo group, the n-3 PUFA group showed a 50% improvement in symptom severity significantly more frequently (69.4 % vs 40%).

In addition, PANSS scores also revealed that treatment with n-3 PUFA was linked with improvements in general psychopathology (EF=0.32), depressive symptoms (EF=0.34), level of functioning (EF=0.31), and clinical global impression (EF=0.29).

“The findings suggest that 6-month intervention with n-3 PUFA may be a valuable add-on therapy able to decrease the intensity of symptoms and improve the level of functioning in first-episode schizophrenia patients,” the study’s authors concluded.

—Lauren LeBano


1. Pawełczyk T, Grancow-Grabka M, Kotlicka-Antczak M, et al. A randomized controlled study of the efficacy of six-month supplementation with concentrated fish oil rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in first episode schizophrenia. J Psychiatr Res. 2015 Nov 25;[Epub ahead of print].