British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Dietary Surveys and Nutritional Epidemiology

Dietary intake of fish and PUFA, and clinical depressive and anxiety disorders in women

Felice N. Jackaa1a2 c1, Julie A. Pascoa1a3a4, Lana J. Williamsa1a2, Barbara J. Meyera5, Rebecca Diggera5 and Michael Berka1a2a6a7

a1 Barwon Psychiatric Research Unit, Deakin University, School of Medicine and Barwon Health, Geelong, VIC, Australia

a2 Department of Psychiatry, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

a3 Barwon Epidemiology and Biostatistics Unit, School of Medicine and Barwon Health, Geelong, VIC, Australia

a4 Department of Medicine, NorthWest Academic Centre, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

a5 School of Health Sciences, Metabolic Research Centre, University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia

a6 Orygen Youth Health, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

a7 Mental Health Research Institute, Parkville, VIC, Australia

Abstract

Fish and PUFA consumption are thought to play a role in mental health; however, many studies do not take into account multiple sources of PUFA. The present study analysed data from a sample of 935 randomly selected, population-based women aged 20–93 years. A validated and comprehensive dietary questionnaire ascertained the consumption of n-3 and n-6 PUFA. Another assessed fish and energy intake and provided data for a dietary quality score. The General Health Questionnaire-12 (GHQ-12) measured psychological symptoms and a clinical interview (Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV-TR Research Version, Non-patient edition) assessed depressive and anxiety disorders. Median dietary intakes of long-chain n-3 fatty acids (310 mg/d) were below suggested dietary target levels. The only PUFA related to categorical depressive and anxiety disorders was DHA. There was a non-linear relationship between DHA intake and depression; those in the second tertile of DHA intake were nearly 70 % less likely to report a current depressive disorder compared to those in the first tertile. The relationship of DHA to anxiety disorders was linear; for those in the highest tertile of DHA intake, the odds for anxiety disorders were reduced by nearly 50 % after adjustments, including adjustment for diet quality scores, compared to the lowest tertile. Those who ate fish less than once per week had higher GHQ-12 scores, and this relationship was particularly obvious in smokers. These are the first observational data to indicate a role for DHA in anxiety disorders, but suggest that the relationship between DHA and depressive disorders may be non-linear.

(Received November 21 2011)

(Revised August 09 2012)

(Accepted August 09 2012)

(Online publication October 10 2012)

Key Words:

  • n-3;
  • n-6;
  • PUFA;
  • Depression;
  • Anxiety;
  • Diet;
  • Nutrition

Correspondence

c1 Corresponding author: Dr F. N. Jacka, fax +61 3 5222 2420, email felice@barwonhealth.org.au

Footnotes

  Abbreviations: AA, arachidonic acid; ALA, α-linolenic acid; DPA, docosapentaenoic acid; DQS, diet quality score; GHQ-12, General Health Questionnaire-12; IQR, interquartile range; LA, linoleic acid; LC, long-chain; NHMRC, National Health and Medical Research Council; SCID-I/NP, Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV-TR Research Version, Non-patient edition; SES, socio-economic status

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