Bacterial Flora Of The Gut Could Help Treat Depression


Treatment for depression may benefit from examining the relationship between the microbiome, the gut, and the brain. Most people think of the microbiome as a collective term for all of the microorganisms found in or on the human body, including the flora that lives in and on the intestines. The neurological system can be affected by intestinal bacteria, for example, by metabolic products.

University of Basel and University Psychiatric Clinic Basel (UPK) researchers have shown that taking probiotics along with antidepressants can be beneficial. They published their findings in Translational Psychiatry on June 3, 2022.

Patients with depression have been found to have higher than usual rates of digestive and intestinal issues, according to earlier research. Depressive-like behavior can be observed in mice whose intestinal flora has been implanted with that of persons with depression, even in sterile conditions. Because of this, kids are less active and show less interest in their environment compared to their peers. As a result, scientists believe that depressed symptoms may be influenced by the bacterial flora in the gut.

New study

Probiotics were the focus of a recent study led by Dr. André Schmidt and Professor Undine Lang, who examined the impact they had on individuals suffering from depression. For the duration of the study, all participants were hospitalized at the University Psychiatric Clinics Basel (UPK) and administered either a probiotic or a placebo. Neither the test subjects nor the study personnel were aware of the preparations the individuals were taking during the study. The individuals were subjected to a battery of tests before, throughout, and after the 31-day therapy period. As a result of the general antidepressant treatment, depression symptoms decreased in all participants, but the probiotic group exhibited a higher improvement than the placebo group.

As a result, the makeup of their intestinal flora shifted, at least momentarily: stool samples from the probiotic group demonstrated an elevation in lactic acid bacteria towards the conclusion of therapy, which was followed by a decrease in depressed symptoms. However, over the next four weeks, the number of these beneficial gut bacteria reduced once more. A four-week course of treatment may be insufficient, as the altered intestinal flora composition may take longer to stabilize.

Susan Kowal
Susan Kowal is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor/advisor, and health enthusiast.