Recent studies have revealed that fatty acid profile can be associated with psychological disorders. However, evidence on stress and anxiety is scarce. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between stress and anxiety, defined as mood states, and erythrocyte fatty acid (FA) profile.
This case-control study was conducted on 45 female students with degrees of stress and anxiety without depression disorder and 45 matched controls with no depression, stress, or anxiety. Self-administered questionnaires included a 28-item Food Frequency questionnaire and Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS-21), which were used to measure dietary patterns and psychological disorders, respectively. Erythrocyte membrane fatty acids were analyzed using gas-liquid chromatography.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) was significantly lower in the case group (p = 0.008). Hydrogenated fats were associated with degrees of stress and anxiety (OR = 1.53, p = 0.019), while linoleate and DHA were inversely associated with stress and anxiety scores (OR = 0.37, p = 0.05; OR = 0.31, p = 0.014, respectively). Monounsaturated FAs (MUFAs) and total RBC trans FA were associated with increased risk of stress and anxiety (OR = 1.81, p < 0.001; OR = 3.38, p = 0.003, respectively).
Trans-fatty acids may be related to stress and anxiety scales but linoleate and DHA could decrease the risk. The effect of MUFAs may be regarded as a result of compensatory biological mechanisms.
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