Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 100–104

Depressed mood and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid intake from fish: non-linear or confounded association?

  • Katherine M. Appleton
  • Tim J. Peters
  • Robert C. Hayward
  • Susan V. Heatherley
  • Sarah A. McNaughton
  • Peter J. Rogers
  • David Gunnell
  • Andrew R. Ness
  • David Kessler
ORIGINAL PAPER

DOI: 10.1007/s00127-006-0142-3

Cite this article as:
Appleton, K.M., Peters, T.J., Hayward, R.C. et al. Soc Psychiat Epidemiol (2007) 42: 100. doi:10.1007/s00127-006-0142-3

Abstract

There is increasing evidence of an association between low dietary intake of essential n-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 EFAs) and depressed mood. This study aimed to evaluate this association in a large population-based sample of UK individuals. N-3 EFA intake (intake from fish alone, and from all sources (fish and supplements)), depressed mood (assessed using the short-form Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scales) and demographic variables (sex, age, Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) based on postal code, and date of questionnaire completion) were obtained simultaneously by self-report questionnaire (N = 2982). Using polynomial regression, a non-linear relationship between depressed mood and n-3 EFA intake from fish was found, with the incremental decrease in depressed mood diminishing as n-3 EFA intake increased. However, this relationship was attenuated by adjustment for age and IMD. No relationship between depression and n-3 EFA intake from all sources was found. These findings suggest that higher levels of n-3 EFA intake from fish are associated with lower levels of depressed mood, but the association disappears after adjustment for age and social deprivation, and after inclusion of n-3 EFA intake from supplements. This study does have a number of limitations, but the findings available suggest that the apparent associations between depressed mood and n-3 EFA intake from fish may simply reflect a wider association between depressed mood and lifestyle.

Keywords

n3 fatty acidsfishsupplementsdietdepressed moodagesocial deprivationlifestyle

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katherine M. Appleton
    • 1
  • Tim J. Peters
    • 2
  • Robert C. Hayward
    • 3
  • Susan V. Heatherley
    • 3
  • Sarah A. McNaughton
    • 4
  • Peter J. Rogers
    • 3
  • David Gunnell
    • 5
  • Andrew R. Ness
    • 6
  • David Kessler
    • 2
  1. 1.School of PsychologyQueen’s University of BelfastBelfastUK
  2. 2.Academic Unit of Primary Health Care, Dept. of Community Based MedicineUniversity of BristolBristolUK
  3. 3.Dept. of Experimental PsychologyUniversity of BristolBristolUK
  4. 4.MRC Human Nutrition ResearchElsie Widdowson LaboratoryCambridgeUK
  5. 5.Dept. of Social MedicineUniversity of BristolBristolUK
  6. 6.Unit of Paediatric and Perinatal EpidemiologyUniversity of BristolBristolUK