- Depression affects millions of people in the United States alone.
- Depression treatment is often complex and may involve a combination of several treatments.
- New research suggests that probiotics may be a useful complementary therapy in improving symptoms of depression.
With an estimated 21 million adults in the United States believed to have experienced one or more major depressive episodes in 2020, according to
The study adds to existing evidence of a link between gut health and mental health.
According to the NIMH, a major depressive episode is defined as:
A period of at least two weeks when the person was in a depressed mood, loss of interest or enjoyment in daily activities, and had the majority of identified symptoms, such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, focus, or self-esteem. “
- Support from groups, friends and family members
- Cognitive behavioral therapy, which involves learning to change thought patterns and actions to help manage symptoms
- Medications such as antidepressants
Improving other areas of health and supporting general well-being can also help treat depression. For example, the use of relaxation techniques and exercises can benefit people with depression.
However, researchers are still working to understand how best to help people with depression, including using complementary therapies.
The study in question was a randomized controlled trial that delved into the relationship between the normal bacteria in the gut and its connection to the brain. The study authors note that previous search showed that among people with depression, there are also changes in the composition of the bacteria in the gut.
The study participants were adults who were currently depressed. Researchers used The Hamilton Depression Rating Scale To assess participants’ depression.
The participants were in one of two groups: one group received the probiotics over a period of four weeks while the other received a placebo.
Probiotics, according to the National Institutes of Health, are “living microorganisms (such as bacteria and yeasts) that provide health benefits when ingested.” It can have an effect on the bacteria in the gut and people can get it through supplements or certain types of food.
The researchers found that the participants who received the probiotics had a higher reduction in depressive symptoms. They also saw an increase in a group of bacteria called Lactobacillus Among the intestinal flora of the participants who received probiotics.
Dr. Andre SchmidtThe study author and neuroscientist noted that one of the highlights of the study was the supportive effect of probiotics on antidepressants in patients with major depressive disorder.
“The 4-week intervention period facilitated clinical decision-making, that is, determining whether the combination of antidepressants [and] Probiotics worked or not. The improvement in depression symptoms coincided with that [an] Increased abundance of Lactobacillus’ Medical news today.
Dr. Schmidt said these findings could help develop better, more efficient, and individually tailored probiotics to treat depression.
The study provides valuable data and suggests that the use of probiotics may be beneficial in treating depression. However, the study also had several limitations.
First of all, the study included a limited number of participants. The authors also note that participants’ compliance with either the probiotics or the placebo was not ideal, which may affect the results. Additional research could include longer follow-up and more participants.
In addition, the results may be influenced by many strains of the probiotic and their interaction with the body, so investigation in detail will be important in future research. Another area where researchers can work to understand is the distinct interaction between antidepressants and probiotics.
Dr. Schmidt said MNT That further research could focus on “identifying biomarkers to guide treatment. That is, knowing which patient would benefit from any treatment, based on specific biomarkers.”
Dr. Graham RockThe emeritus professor of medical microbiology at University College London, who was not involved in the study, found the study’s results encouraging.
“[There was] He noted modest evidence of at least a reduction in depressive symptoms in the high-compliance subgroup (55% remission rate) compared to a 40% remission rate in the placebo group.
Dr. pointed out. Rock suggests that researchers can work to understand why these particular findings occurred.
[I]It appears likely that probiotics may be useful in treating depression, but there are several candidate mechanisms. Perhaps, if we can identify the mechanism, we will be able to improve the effect to a more beneficial level.”
– Dr. Graham Rock