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Efficacy of ethyl-eicosapentaenoic acid in bipolar depression: Randomised double-blind placebo-controlled study

  • Sophia Frangou (a1), Michael Lewis (a2) and Paul McCrone (a2)

Epidemiological and clinical studies suggest that increased intake of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) alleviates unipolar depression.


To examine the efficacy of EPA in treating depression in bipolar disorder.


In a 12-week, double-blind study individuals with bipolar depression were randomly assigned to adjunctive treatment with placebo (n=26) or with 1g/day (n=24) or 2 g/day (n=25) of ethyl-EPA. Primary efficacy was assessed by the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD), with changes in the Young Mania Rating Scale and Clinical Global Impression Scale (CGI) as secondary outcome measures.


There was no apparent benefit of 2g over 1g ethyl-EPA daily. Significant improvement was noted with ethyl-EPA treatment compared with placebo in the HRSD (P=0.04) and the CGI (P=0.004) scores. Both doses were well tolerated.


Adjunctive ethyl-EPA is an effective and well-tolerated intervention in bipolar depression.

Corresponding author
Dr Sophia Frangou, Section of Neurobiology of Psychosis, PO66, Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AF, UK. E-mail:
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This paper was presented at the 3rd European Stanley Foundation Conference on Bipolar Disorder, Freiburg, Germany, 12–14 September 2002.

Declaration of interest

The study (excluding attendance or presentations at international conferences) was supported by Laxdale Ltd, supplier of the ethyl-EPA preparation used in it.

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Efficacy of ethyl-eicosapentaenoic acid in bipolar depression: Randomised double-blind placebo-controlled study

  • Sophia Frangou (a1), Michael Lewis (a2) and Paul McCrone (a2)
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