Do Probiotics Help Depression?

Young woman hoping that probiotics help depression

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Depression is a serious mental health condition that can lead to a wide range of negative consequences.

Millions of people suffer from depression, and many people are looking for a natural way to treat this condition. Whilst antidepressants are the most common treatment for depression, they come with a lot of side effects. Plus, they only work for about 50% of people who take them.

Therefore, looking into whether probiotics help depression or not has become a hot topic and one that is being investigated further.

Probiotics may be able to help relieve symptoms of depression. A recent study showed that probiotics were effective in reducing depressive symptoms in participants who were diagnosed with major depressive disorder.

“All sickness begins in the gut,” This claim may be true in some cases, especially when it comes to major depression.

Hippocrates, Greek Physician

Your gut bacteria profile and depression

Bacteria have been found to be associated with depression in animal models.

Studies on humans find that people who are depressed tend to have different gut bacterial profiles than those who aren’t. This is a correlation, not causation, but it might be worth looking into how gut health could contribute to your mental health.

The bacteria Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium seem to be especially important for mental health, and probiotics that contain them (like probiotic yogurt or supplements) might be helpful in treating depression. More research is needed, but this is an exciting possibility!

So far, the evidence on whether probiotics help depression is mixed. Some studies find that probiotics help, while others don’t. It’s possible that the effect of probiotics varies depending on the person’s individual gut bacteria profile.

That said, probiotics are generally considered safe, and they might be worth trying if you’re struggling with depression. Talk to your doctor before starting any new supplement, though.

Depression is a serious mental health condition that affects millions of people. It can be caused by a number of factors, including genetics, lifestyle, and chemical imbalances in the brain.

Probiotics and gut microbiota

People with depression tend to have lower numbers of numerous populations of gut microbiota, according to a review article by Sanada and colleagues published in the April 2020 issue of the Journal of Affective Disorders. The researchers also discovered that probiotic therapies appear to reduce depression symptoms.

Let me first address two fundamental questions before moving on to the findings: What are probiotics? And what is gut microbiota?

Probiotics are “microorganisms that, when administered in sufficient concentrations, offer health advantages to hosts” (p. S49).

The health benefits of probiotics for depression have received a lot of attention. Some health professionals, for example, have advocated for the intake of probiotic-rich foods (e.g., yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi).

Probiotics are thought to work in a variety of ways to provide health benefits. By influencing the intestinal microbiota.

Microorganisms (bacteria, for example) that live in the gut are referred to as gut microbiota. The gut microbiota plays a role in a variety of activities, including those affecting the immune system and the brain. These mechanisms and communication pathways (dubbed the microbiota-gut-brain axis) have a significant impact on the body’s stress response. Resilience (effective stress adaptation) may, for example, necessitate a healthy gut flora.

Microorganisms in the intestines of persons with certain mental health difficulties, such as depression, have been found to be different from those in the intestines of healthy people, according to research. What makes you unique? Could probiotics aid in the restoration of a healthy gut microbial balance? We turn to Sanada and colleagues’ review articles to find answers to these questions.

Probiotics have been proven to help the gut microbiome stay healthy - probiotics help depression
Probiotics have been proven to help the gut microbiome stay healthy

Depressed people’s gut microbiome and the use of probiotics to treat depression

The authors identified 181 publications and articles on gut microbiota composition in individuals with depression through a literature search and other sources. Following a review, 22 of these papers were selected for further evaluation. There were 16 clinical trials in total that were included in the systematic review and meta-analysis: Ten (701 people) were involved in observational research, whereas six (302 people) were involved in interventional research.

Data analysis revealed several variations in gut microbiota between depressed individuals and healthy people. Some microorganisms, such as the Prevotellaceae family, were shown to be less frequent in people with depression. The same might be said for the genera Coprococcus and Faecalibacterium.

But how might changes in microbe populations in the stomach influence the risk of depression? The precise mechanics are unknown. Short-chain fatty acids (made by numerous genera in the Prevotellaceae family) may be involved in the mechanisms that guard against depression in the Prevotellaceae family.

The study also looked into the benefits of probiotics in the treatment of depression. The therapies studied had a large effect on depression symptoms (SMD = -1.62, 95 percent CI = -2.73 to -0.51, p 0.01). As a result, probiotics tend to help with depression symptoms. Nonetheless, there were methodological flaws that weakened the significance of this conclusion (e.g., high risk of bias, and a small number of trials and sample sizes).

The link between probiotics and depression

According to a study published in the journal “Psychopharmacology,” probiotics may help alleviate depression symptoms. The study found that people who took probiotics reported a significant reduction in depression symptoms, compared to those who did not take probiotics.

The study’s authors say that the findings suggest that probiotics may be effective for treating depression. They note, however, that more research is needed to confirm these findings.

Probiotics may be able to help with depression. A growing body of research suggests that probiotics may play a role in mood and mental health.

So far, there is limited evidence on whether probiotics can help treat depression. However, there is some evidence that probiotics may be helpful for other mental health conditions, such as anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

In conclusion

Though there is no consensus on the optimum gut microbiota composition, the data discussed today reveals that the populations of bacteria in depressed people’s guts differ dramatically from those in non-depressed people’s guts. This is significant because stress can lead to a microbial imbalance in the gut, which can raise the risk of depression.

Probiotics appear to help lessen depressed symptoms, according to the authors. However, this does not imply that these bacteria may replace antidepressant medicines or psychotherapy. Perhaps one day, probiotics will be more firmly advised, and a specific strain and amount of bacteria will be prescribed for depression treatment.

However for now probiotics tend to fall into the category “doesn’t hurt, might benefit” category the time being.

Whilst depression is a serious mental health condition that can impact your life in many ways, if left untreated, depression can lead to other problems like anxiety, addiction, and even suicide.

If you are considering taking probiotics for depression, talk to your doctor first. They can help you decide if probiotics are right for you and can recommend a probiotic supplement that is right for you.

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