Can fish oil help prevent psychiatric disorders?

New study randomized double-blind trial designed to test if Omega-3 fatty acids help improve clinical symptoms.

By NORTH SHORE-LONG ISLAND JEWISH HEALTH SYSTEM
February 13, 2012 16:17
2 minute read.
Fish oil capsules

Fish oil capsules_390. (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)

 
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Researchers at Zucker Hillside Hospital’s Recognition and Prevention (RAP) Program who have worked with teenagers at risk for serious mental illness for the past decade are now studying the effectiveness of Omega 3 fatty acids (fish oil) for treating psychiatric symptoms. This new study is a National Institute of Mental Health-funded randomized double-blind trial that was designed to test whether Omega-3 fatty acids improve clinical symptoms, and help adolescents and young adults (ages 12 to 25) who are at elevated risk for severe psychiatric disorders function better in school, work and other social environments.

“Of the 300 adolescents who have participated in the RAP Program, most have shown substantial improvement,” noted Barbara Cornblatt, Ph.D., director of the Recognition and Prevention (RAP) Program and investigator at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research. “If this study continues to show success, Omega 3 could offer a natural alternative to the range of medications and therapies now offered to RAP participants. Ultimately, the goal of the RAP Program is to intervene and prevent illness before symptoms get worse.”

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Omega 3 fatty acids are critical for normal brain function and they have been increasingly studied as potential treatments for medical and psychiatric disorders. The RAP Program study will randomly assign participants to either Omega 3 supplementation or to a placebo, and will compare the groups on key measures of symptoms and functioning after six months. Participants in both groups will be monitored closely on a monthly basis and compensation will be provided. All supplements are offered free of charge.

About the Recognition and Prevention (RAP) Program

The RAP Program is considered a leading research and treatment program in the field of early intervention and prevention of serious mental illness. The RAP Program has also joined with other early intervention research groups to form the eight-site North American Prodrome Longitudinal Study (NAPLS), a major international study consortium conducting cutting edge research with at-risk adolescents and young adults. The Omega 3 fatty acid trial will be conducted at all eight sites in order to evaluate the possibility that fish oil, widely available in health food stores, will provide protection against emerging symptoms of illness.

For more information on the RAP Program research and clinical studies, including the Omega 3 study, call 718-470-8115 or visit the RAP website at www.rapprogram.org.

Headquartered in Manhasset, NY, The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research is home to international scientific leaders in Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer’s disease, psychiatric disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, sepsis, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, human genetics, leukemia, lymphoma, neuroimmunology, and medicinal chemistry. The Feinstein Institute, part of the North Shore-LIJ Health System, ranks in the top 6th percentile of all National Institutes of Health grants awarded to research centers. For more information: www.FeinsteinInstitute.org

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