It has been suggested that low levels of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) play a role in the pathophysiology of some psychiatric disorders. In light of the existence of strong associations between high-frequency and high-severity aggressive behaviors and substance use disorders and of our observation that substance abusers have poor dietary habits, the possibility that the administration of supplements of n-3 PUFAs would decrease their anger levels was explored.

A lifelong history of aggressive behaviors and problems with the law was obtained in 24 patients. Thirteen patients received on a daily basis capsules containing 3 g of n-3 PUFAs (EPA+DHA). Eleven patients received placebo capsules. The trial was double-blind, randomized, and lasted 3 months. An anger scale was administered at baseline and every month thereafter. Six PUFA group patients and eight placebo group patients were followed for an additional 3 months after treatment discontinuation. Four patients in each group had a history of assaultive behavior.

The baseline fish and n-3 PUFA intakes of these eight patients were significantly lower than those of the non-aggressive patients.

When given for 3 months, n-3 PUFAs were superior to placebo in diminishing anger scores.

Scores remained decreased for 3 months following treatment discontinuation. These data provide further support for emerging evidence indicating that supplementation with long-chain n-3 PUFAs could be beneficial in the treatment of some individuals with aggressive tendencies.

PMID: 17900705

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