Eating a lot of fish may help curb the risk of depression–at least in Europe–suggests a pooled analysis of the available evidence, published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.
The association between a fishy diet and mental health appears to be equally significant among men and women, the first analysis of its kind indicates.
Depression affects an estimated 350 million people worldwide, and is projected to become the second leading cause of ill health by 2020.
Several previous studies have looked at the possible role of dietary factors in modifying depression risk, but the findings have been inconsistent and inconclusive.
The researchers therefore pooled the data from relevant studies published between 2001 and 2014 to assess the strength of the evidence on the link between fish consumption and depression risk
After trawling research databases, they found 101 suitable articles, of which 16 were eligible for inclusion in the analysis. These 16 articles included 26 studies, involving 150, 278 participants.
Ten of the studies were cohort studies, which involve monitoring a group of people who don’t have the condition in question for a period of time to see who develops it. The remainder were cross-sectional: these look at the association between a condition and other variables of interest in a defined population at a single point in time or over a brief period.