There are two types of fatty acids that our body likes to have: omega-3s and omega-6s. The problem is that most Americans have a fatty acid imbalance, and more of us have high amounts of omega-6 fats which are found in foods like corn, palm, soy, and cottonseed oils; and lower amounts of omega-3s which are found in flax seeds, walnuts and fish (my favorite:)
That's why Dr. Joseph Hibbeln, MD has extensively studied the connection between fish consumption and mental health. Not surprisingly he has found that the Japanese have the lowest rate of major depression in the developed world - much like all the countries with high fish consumption. In these countries, Dr. Hibbeln has found the lowest rates of depression, bipolar disorder, homicide, and suicide.
In Japan, the country consumes about 145 pounds of fish every year while Americans only consume about 42 pounds a year. Interestingly enough the depression rates in America are 30 times higher than Japan.
So while one could argue that there may be some other environmental and genetic factors that could be playing a part in this -- like stress etc. -- I think it may be safe to say based on this research that there is a strong correlation between omega-3 fatty acids.
But here's even some more proof!
Dr. Hibbeln also researched that pregnancy can lower a woman's omega-3 stats and therefore may contribute to postpartum depression. "He also concluded that higher concentrations of DHA in a mother's milk & greater seafood consumption were associated with lower rates of postpartum depression." (Self Healing October 2006)
Add to that another study conducted at the University of Arizona, which found that women suffering with postpartum depression saw an improvement in symptoms by taking low-dose fish oil supplements and I think you've got a strong case for a visit to the fish market!
*Just a note to women who are currently pregnant. Another reason why your fish intake may be low is due to the conflicting warnings of mercury in our fish supply. Keep in mind that the GOOD fish you can and should eat at least three times a week include: tilapia, salmon (wild-caught), flounder, cod and mahi-mahi.
**Source: Self Healing October 2006
Lisa Angelettie, "GirlShrink" is an online advice authority. Her site GirlShrink.com is the #1 "Advice & Counseling" site on the web and contributing author of "101 Great Ways To Improve Your Life". Instantly get a FREE Bonus when you sign up for her free Better Choices Ezine. Please visit us for more discussion on this topic in the depression forum to talk about it further. Don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter for topics in the news, new articles, website & book reviews, and other useful mental health resources. Subscribe below.