Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating condition characterized by intrusion, avoidance, hyperarousal symptoms after exposure to traumatic events. Since polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have been implicated, we examined the possible association of PTSD with plasma PUFA level and dietary fish intake in 563 women who was struck by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. The impact event scale-revised (IES-R) was used to assess PTSD symptoms. Dietary intake was estimated by a self-report questionnaire. Multivariate analysis controlling for age, body mass index, and stress revealed that PTSD status (IES-R ≥ 25) was associated with plasma eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) level (P = 0.039). In the high-stress group, there were significantly inverse correlations of plasma EPA with IES-R total (r = −0.389, P = 0.031), intrusion (r = −0.370, P = 0.04), and hyperarousal scores (r = −0.480, P = 0.006), although such correlations were not found in the moderate-stress group. Fish intake that increased plasma EPA showed similar correlations with IES-R scores in the severely stressed group. Our results suggest that higher plasma EPA level and EPA-increasing fish intake are associated with a lower risk for PTSD in individuals who have suffered severe stress in a natural disaster.
Part of the book: Psychological Trauma