Fish Consumption and Severe Depressed Mood, Findings from the First National Nutrition Follow-Up Study

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Psychiatric Research






The evidence obtained from prospective studies to support the hypothesis that fish consumption may improve mental status remains limited. The current study prospectively assessed a low frequency of fish consumption as a risk factor for depressed mood. Included were 5068 adults aged 25–74 years examined in 1971–1975 as the baseline of the First National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Follow-up Study. Frequency of eating fish at baseline was obtained using a 3-month food frequency questionnaire. Severely depressed mood (SDM) was defined as the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale scores ≥ 22 or taking anti-depressants. After an average of 10.6 years of follow-up, among men (n = 2039), the percentage of individuals with SDM was 11.7%. Compared with frequent consumers (more than once a week), the odds ratios (ORs) were 1.43 (95%CI = 0.66–3.11) and 2.08 (1.08–4.09) respectively for the men eating fish once a week and less than once a week (p for trend = 0.03). Among women (n = 3029), the percentage of individuals with SDM was 17.89%. The ORs were 1 (reference), 0.91 (0.68–1.22) and 1.15 (0.83–1.59) respectively for the women eating fish more than once, once, and less than once a week. These estimates were obtained after adjustment for indicators of social deprivation and major physical diseases. The study concluded that independently from social deprivation and physical diseases, low fish consumption was a risk factor for SDM among men. Further studies are needed to confirm these findings and elucidate mechanisms for the difference between men and women.