Food and Behaviour Research

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Omega-3 fatty acid treatment of women with borderline personality disorder: a double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study

Zanarini, M.C., Frankenburg, F.R. (2003) Am J Psychiatry 160(1) 167-9. 

Web URL: View this and related abstracts via PubMed here. Free full text of this paper is available online


OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to compare the efficacy of ethyl-eicosapentaenoic acid (E-EPA) and placebo in the treatment of female subjects with borderline personality disorder.

METHOD: The authors conducted an 8-week, placebo-controlled, double-blind study of E-EPA in 30 female subjects meeting Revised Diagnostic Interview for Borderlines and DSM-IV criteria for borderline personality disorder.

RESULTS: Twenty subjects were randomly assigned to 1 g of E-EPA; 10 subjects were given placebo. Ninety percent of those in both groups completed all 8 weeks of the trial. Analyses that used random-effects regression modeling and controlled for baseline severity showed E-EPA to be superior to placebo in diminishing aggression as well as the severity of depressive symptoms.

CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study suggest that E-EPA may be a safe and effective form of monotherapy for women with moderately severe borderline personality disorder.


This randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial found that dietary supplementation with the long-chain omega-3 fatty acid EPA significantly reduced both aggression and symptoms of depression in women diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder.

Previous clinical trials have shown that as an adjunctive treatment, long-chain omega-3 can reduce depressive symptoms in patients with Major Depressive Disorder, and those with Bipolar Depression. See:

The promising results from the current study provide very good grounds for larger treatment trials of omega-3 for Borderline Personality Disorder - especially given that few effective therapies for this troubling condition are currently available.