Essential fatty acids in patients who cause self-harm

Two recent studies looked at the blood levels of essential fatty acids (EFAs) in people with a history of causing self-harm, and the effect of treatment with EFAs.

In the first study of 40 patients, blood levels of cholesterol and EFAs were measured. In addition, depression, impulsiveness, and suicidal intent were assessed in patients with self-harm and compared to others who served as controls.

Lower blood levels of EFA and cholesterol were associated with self-harm, as well as impulsiveness, and affect.

In the second study, 49 patients received either 1.2 grams eicosapentaenoic acid plus 0.9 grams decosahexaenoic acid or placebo after repeated self-harm.

After 12 weeks, the group taking EFAs had significantly greater improvements in scores for depression, tendency to suicide, and daily stresses. However, impulsivity, aggression, and hostility did not differ.

The bottom line?
More studies are planned. Based on the results, EFA supplementation achieved substantial reductions in surrogate markers of suicidal behavior and improvements in well-being.

4/7/07 20:40 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.