According to a new analysis of older studies on the subject, people who eat fish regularly may have a lower risk of depression. The study was published in the journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
Researchers peeked at 25 studies which involved a total of 150,000 individuals and associated their consumption of fish with their depression rates. 7 of the studies were conducted in North America, 10 were done in Europe, with the remaining ones in Asia and South America.
The results of the study analysis showed that the people from Europe who consumed a lot of fish had a 17% lower risk of falling into depression than the study participants who ate the lowest amount of fish.
The researchers wrote in the study papers that higher fish consumption may play a significant role in the prevention of depression.
The team of researchers also analyzed all the date by taking gender into account. What they found is that men have a 20% lower risk of depression than the men who ate lesser amounts of fish. Whereas in women, their risk of depression was decreased by 16% compared to the women who did not eat fish.
What is concerning is that the researchers noted that they did not find any link between fish consumption and lower depression rates among people from other continents than Europe. This is the problem with small-scale studies, because even any noticeable evidence is found, researchers cannot label it as a fact that easily. And the situation is similar in this study. Because of that, Fang Li, professor at Qingdao University in Shandong, China, said that a cause-and-effect association between lower risks of depression and high fish consumptions cannot be established.
Because the analysis was observational, researchers did not have any control over the study participants. They could not ask people to eat more fish or less fish for example. Even more, they could not get any information about what species of fish the participants of the studies ate. Fang Li says that further research is needed in order to find what is the real association between fish consumption and depression risk, by taking into account what type of fish is consumed as well.
Researchers say that although the results are inconclusive, there is clearly a correlation between eating fish and depression rates. Think about it, many previous studies have concluded that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish could alter the membranes of our brain cells, or that they modify the neurotransmitters’ dopamine and serotonin secretion levels, two substances that are believed to be involved in depression.
One simple explanation from professor Fang Li is is that that high fish consumption generally means a healthier diet, which offers great nutritional intakes. We all know that people who are healthier are generally happier as well.
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