Our recent pilot study has shown that the supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) immediately after a traumatic event may be effective toward the secondary prevention of post-traumatic disorder (PTSD).

To lay the groundwork for addressing the mechanism by which omega-3 fatty acids can prevent PTSD, we analyzed its psychophysiological data. The psychophysiological data included heart rate, skin conductance, and continuous blood pressure during patient subjection to startling tones and idiographic trauma-related cues.

Of the 8 patients, 1 met the diagnostic criteria for PTSD. Compared to the seven patients without PTSD, one patient with PTSD showed relatively large reactivity to the startle tones. In contrast, this patient did not show large reactivity to the trauma-related cue during script-driven imagery.

The combination of psychophysiological measurements in our randomized control trial should shed light on the underlying mechanisms by which omega-3 fatty acids can prevent PTSD.