Fish lowers depression risk

Fish is considered to be good for the brain, and a study has shown that eating more oily fish could help teenagers feel less depressed.

Omega-3 fatty acids are found predominantly in oily fish. Because these nutrients are thought to play a role in brain function, many researchers have wondered whether a high consumption could lower the risk of depression. But earlier studies on this topic among adults have yielded inconclusive results, Health news reported.

To examine the association between consumption of fish, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and depression among teenagers, researchers analysed the diet and rates of depression in 3,067 boys and 3,450 girls from Japan. The participants were high school students aged between 12 and 15 years.

Overall, 23 percent of the boys and 31 percent of the girls suffered from symptoms of depression, including feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and sleep disturbances.

Based on questionnaires of food intake, and adjusting for factors including age and parents’ education level, it was found that boys who ate the most fish the top fifth based on total consumption had a 27 percent lower odds of being depressed compared to those ranked in the bottom fifth.

Similar differences were seen when looking specifically at the EPA and DHA content of the fish consumed. Meanwhile, no effect of eating fish on depression was seen among the girls.

The researchers cautioned that their findings do not provide enough evidence to determine if eating fish actually lowers the risk of depression. It is also possible that those who are depressed eat less fish.

Although more research is needed to confirm a cause-and-effect link, the study indicates that boosting the intake of fish may prevent depression.