Associations between omega-3 poly-unsaturated fatty acids from fish consumption and severity of depressive symptoms: an analysis of the 2005-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2012 Apr;86(4-5):155-60. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2012.03.003. Epub 2012 Apr 1.


Fish is the primary source of dietary omega-3 poly-unsaturated fatty acids EPA and DHA, which have been reported to reduce depressive symptoms in clinical trials. We assessed the association between fish consumption and depressive symptoms in a nationally representative sample of 10,480 adults from the 2005-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Depressive symptoms were classified by severity using the Patient Health Questionnaire. Fish meal consumption reported in 30-day food frequency questionnaires, and EPA+DHA intake computed from 24-h dietary recalls were evaluated in relation to depressive symptoms using multivariable ordinal logistic regression. Consumption of breaded fish showed an increased risk of greater depressive symptom severity, while all fish, non-breaded fish, and shell fish were not associated. Any EPA+DHA intake was significantly associated with fewer depressive symptoms. Exposure-response analyses revealed no clear patterns for any intake measures. Inconsistent patterns of associations in our study may be partially explained by exposure misclassification.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Depression / metabolism*
  • Depression / physiopathology
  • Diet*
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / administration & dosage
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / pharmacology
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / pharmacology
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Seafood*
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid