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Keywords:

  • postpartum period;
  • depression;
  • omega-3 fatty acids

Objective:  Postpartum depression (PPD) affects 10–15% of mothers. Omega-3 fatty acids are an intriguing potential treatment for PPD.

Method:  The efficacy of omega-3 fatty acids for PPD was assessed in an 8-week dose-ranging trial. Subjects were randomized to 0.5 g/day (n = 6), 1.4 g/day (n = 3), or 2.8 g/day (n = 7).

Results:  Across groups, pretreatment Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) and Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD) mean scores were 18.1 and 19.1 respectively; post-treatment mean scores were 9.3 and 10.0. Percent decreases on the EPDS and HRSD were 51.5% and 48.8%, respectively; changes from baseline were significant within each group and when combining groups. Groups did not significantly differ in pre- or post-test scores, or change in scores. The treatment was well tolerated.

Conclusion:  This study was limited by small sample size and lack of placebo group. However, these results support further study of omega-3 fatty acids as a treatment for PPD.