Fish floated against depression

SALMON sashimi may become a hot favourite in weekly meal plans after a Tasmanian study found women who consumed more fish could reduce their chances of developing depression.

The study looked at 1386 adults from across Australia, aged 26 to 36, who were questioned about their mental health, diet and lifestyle, including their weekly seafood intake.

Women who ate fish at least twice a week were found to have a 25 per cent less chance of developing depression.

For males, there was no association found between depression and fish consumption.

Menzies Research Institute Tasmania researcher Kylie Smith said the study mapped all seafoods including shellfish but other studies had found fish with omega 3 fatty acids such as salmon or tuna were more beneficial.

``There have been quite a few studies that have shown connections between fish and depression but no one has ever looked at it over the long term, which is what we have done,'' Dr Smith said. 

``Those women who ate more fish were less likely to develop depression over the five-year follow up period.'' 

The report, authored by six researchers including four Tasmanians, was published in the  American Journal of Epidemiology . 

Out of the sample, 160 women and 70 men experienced depression in the five years following the questionnaires and interviews.

Lifestyle factors such as weight, smoking and marital status were also assessed but did not change the findings, where the risk of a new depressive episode in women decreased by 6 per cent for each additional weekly serving of fish consumed.

Dr Smith said the study could be aligned with an increasing interest to discover whether lifestyle factors can help reduce depression.

``There are some nasty side effects with [anti-depressant] drugs and some people don't take the medication so researchers are trying to find out whether diet or physical activity can reduce depression,'' she said.

The study was connected to the Childhood Determinants of Adult Health study and used data from 1984, 2004 to 2006 and 2009 to 2011. 

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