A probiotic supplement containing eight different strains was found to reduce depressive symptoms.
A higher dose probiotic supplementation called Vivomixx® has been found to reduce depression and improve the effect of antidepressants.
In the study, when depressed patients took a multi-strain probiotic supplement for a month they saw reductions in their symptoms.
Depression is one of the most common and troublesome mental illnesses which affects millions of people, yet current treatments are inadequate.
Psychotherapy along with medication can help some patients escape the “black dog”, but not everyone.
Studies show that two-thirds of depressed patients don’t respond well enough to antidepressants, thus experts are still looking for more options to improve current treatments or find better ones.
Targeting the gut-brain axis
One treatment approach is targeting the microbiota-gut-brain (MGB) axis to make existing drugs more efficient and lower depression.
The brain and the digestive system have a two-way relationship, which is known as the gut-brain axis.
In other words, what you eat affects how you think and what you think also affects how your digestion works.
Depressed patients generally have more digestive disorders and a greater gut bacteria imbalance.
Research suggests that if the intestinal flora of depressed people is imitated in mice then they show symptoms of depression like fatigue, lack of interest, and sadness.
This indicates that microbiota composition influences the central nervous system through the gut-brain axis.
Probiotics can stimulate the gut-brain axis and potentially improve mood and brain function (Ranuh et al., 2019).
Moreover the current study shows that probiotics can improve the effects of antidepressants, leading to better outcomes.
Eight specific strains
In this study, patients with depression took a probiotic supplement called Vivomixx®, which contains eight specific strains providing 900 billion CFU per day for one month.
The results showed a great improvement in patients’ mood as well as changes in the composition of their intestinal flora.
However, the positive health effects caused by probiotics reduced when the supplementation stopped.
Ms Anna-Chiara Schaub, the study’s first author, said:
“It may be that four weeks of treatment is not long enough and that it takes longer for the new composition of the intestinal flora to stabilize.”
- A study on people with irritable bowel syndrome who were also depressed showed that probiotics relieve the symptoms of depression, as well as helping with digestion problems.
- A study by researchers at the Leiden Institute of Brain and Cognition also showed that probiotics can stop people ruminating.
About the author
The study was published in the journal Translational Psychiatry (Schaub et al., 2022).
Hello, and welcome to PsyBlog. Thanks for dropping by.
This site is all about scientific research into how the mind works.
It’s mostly written by psychologist and author, Dr Jeremy Dean.
I try to dig up fascinating studies that tell us something about what it means to be human.