ROCKVILLE, MARYLAND. Dr. Joseph Hibbeln, a researcher at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports in a letter to The Lancet that he has found a convincing correlation between fish consumption and the incidence of major depression. Dr. Hibbeln correlated the annual incidence of major depression per 100 people in nine countries with the consumption of fish. He found a high incidence of depression in countries with low fish consumption. New Zealand with an annual fish consumption of only 40 lbs had an annual incidence rate of depression of 5.8 per cent while Korea with a fish consumption of more than 100 lbs/year had an annual incidence rate of only 2.3 per cent. Japan with a fish consumption of almost 150 lbs/year had the lowest incidence of major depression (0.12 per cent). Dr. Hibbeln cautions that various economic, social, cultural and other factors could have influenced his results, but points out that high blood plasma concentrations of docosahexaenoic acid, an essential fatty acid found in fish, has been linked to increased serotonin turnover and lower incidences of depression and suicide.
Hibbeln, Joseph R. Fish consumption and major depression. The Lancet, Vol. 351, April 18, 1998, p. 1213 (correspondence)