Omega-3s: Fishing for Happiness

Fish may be the food to eat for pregnant moms.

By Colin Allen, published on May 1, 2003 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

Fish may be the food to eat for pregnant moms. Eating omega-3s--fatty acids commonly found in fish--lowered the chances of depression for pregnant and postpartum moms, according to a study released this Tuesday.

Pregnant women who ate 10 ounces of fish daily had nearly half the rate of depression than those who skipped seafood. And the more fish a woman ate, the less likely she was to be depressed.

The study tracked 14,541 women for signs of depression from their eighth week of pregnancy until their babies were 8 months old. Study author Joseph Hibbeln, M.D., from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, says that babies require omega-3s for brain development. And if they can't get such fatty acids from the mother's diet, they take it from the mom herself.

Hibbeln suggests that eating fish two or three times a week would likely evade depression. The Food and Drug Administration, though, warns that shark, swordfish and tilefish should be avoided because of high levels of mercury. Instead, the most recommended fish are salmon, common mackerel and lake trout.

Taking an omega-3 supplement once a day may also be effective, however, more research should be done before giving such a recommendation.

About 10 to 15 percent of women suffer postpartum depression—called the baby blues. Many women are uncomfortable taking antidepressants while pregnant, despite research that finds they do not harm the baby.

For more on postpartum depression, click here.