Growing evidence suggests the clinical usefulness of omega (ω)-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in patients with psychiatric disorders.

In the present review, we summarize the findings of randomized placebo-controlled clinical trials focusing on the potential therapeutic utility of omega-3 PUFA in mental illnesses. We searched the Pubmed databese for placebo-controlled clinical trials utilizing the keywords PUFA, omega 3, eicosapentaenoic acid, docosahexaenoic acid in combination with the following terms: anxiety disorders, autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), personality disorders, and schizophrenia.

The literature review indicated that personality disorders, autism, and anxiety disorders have been less investigated than mood disorder, schizophrenia, and ADHD. While no definite conclusions can be drawn on the therapeutic efficacy of ω-3 PUFA in the majority of psychiatric illnesses examined herein, evidence suggests the potential preventive role of this molecules in subjects at ultra-high risk for developing psychosis.

Hopefully, future studies in the field should examine the turnover of ω-PUFA in the neural membranes. Moreover, special attention should be paid to potential confounders such as dietary or smoking habits.