Finding Balance: Fish oils may help in psychiatric disorder

Women with borderline personality disorder (BPD) may benefit from taking fish oil supplements, according to a study published earlier this year in the American Journal of Psychiatry. There is growing evidence that omega-3 fatty acids, naturally found in cold water fish, may be quite effective in countering some of the more debilitating effects of depression as well as bipolar disorder. Now the nutrient appears effective in combating the effects of BPD as well.

Borderline personality disorder affects up to 2% of the North American population, most of them women. People with BPD often suffer low self-esteem, may demonstrate impulsive or reckless behavior, outbursts of anger, and frequently suffer from anxiety or depression.

Researchers at the Laboratories for the Study of Adult Development at McLean Hospital in Boston enrolled 30 female subjects who met criteria for BPD. Twenty subjects received two 500 mg capsules of an EPA-rich omega-3 fatty acid supplement. The placebo control group received mineral oil capsules.

The researchers found a statistically significant decline in both depression and aggression among the study subjects who received the omega-3 fatty acid. They suggest that EPA might be effective because it may lead to an increase in cell membrane stabilization in the brain, which is made up of at least 60% fats. Thus, the researchers conclude, EPA-rich fish oils may be a safe and effective form of therapy for women suffering from moderately severe BPD.

McLean Hospital, Feb 10, 2003