Plain Language Summary
This research established the first international consensus-based practice guideline for prescribing Omega-3 fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) to treat major depressive disorder (MDD). An advisory panel consisting of experts from the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research (ISNPR) centered the practice guideline on 5 major themes. A set of 12 comprehensive clinical recommendations were drafted based on these key areas identified through systematic literature review, survey, and expert sharing. This research emphasized that prior to prescribing n-3 PUFAs as an alternative treatment for MDD, accurate clinical diagnosis and measurement-based psychopathological assessments should be carried out.
Existing antidepressants used to treat moderate to severe symptoms of MDD are effective for only a small group of patients and is said to have various side effects. Past researches have shown n-3 PUFA to be a promising preventive and treatment method for MDD. However, despite the findings, there is a lack of clinical practice guidelines to aid clinicians in prescribing n-3 PUFA. In order to provide an effective practice guideline, this research gathered the consensus from experts of ISNPR, identified the need to personalize MDD treatment according to subgroups, and encouraged the adoption of a transparent communication system between clinicians and patients.
The SDG Impact
According to WHO, more than 264 million people suffer from depression, one of the most common illness and the leading cause of disability worldwide. In the United States alone, approximately 17.3 million adults aged 18 and above have experienced episodes of major depressive disorder in 2017. Although effective treatment options are available, there are still 76% to 85% of patients from low- or middle-income countries who are deprived of these treatments. With that said, the aim of this research aligns well with “Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being” of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). As one of the targets under this goal is to “reduce premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being,” the guidelines provided in this article will help clinicians worldwide to get a step closer to achieving this target successfully.