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Psychiatry Res. 2011 Nov 30;190(1):103-9. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2011.05.012. Epub 2011 May 31.

Fish consumption and severely depressed mood, findings from the first national nutrition follow-up study.

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Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA.


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.

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