In a recent study, researchers from the University of Basel and the University Psychiatric Clinics Basel (UPK) have found that probiotics can support treatment with antidepressants. It may be a helpful supplemental treatment for people with depression.

Probiotics are “live microorganisms that provide health benefits when you consume them.” Probiotics are made up of good bacteria that help keep your body healthy. Probiotics have a great impact on the bacteria in the gut and people can consume them from supplements and some foods.

 

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According to MedicalNewsToday, this new study adds to current evidence demonstrating the connection between gut health and mental health.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates, that about 21 million adults in the United States have experienced more than one depressive episode in 2020.

Depression is very common and it is a widespread issue in modern society. According to the survey reports from CDC, in 2019, 18.5% of adults surveyed in the United States had symptoms of depression that were either mild, moderate, or severe in the previous 2 weeks.

 

According to NIMH, we can define a major depressive episode like this:
“A period of at least two weeks when a person experienced a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities and had a majority of specified symptoms, such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, or self-worth.”

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Depressed young woman / Gettyimage

Making physical health better and supporting overall well-being can help reduce depression levels. For instance, relaxation techniques, workouts, and exercise can help treat people with depression.

Researchers are now in their efforts to understand how to best help people with depression, including using supplemental treatments.

 

In their new study, the researchers investigated the effects of probiotics on people with depression. The participants in the trials were inpatients at the University Psychiatric Clinics Basel (UPK). Researchers gave them a probiotic (21 subjects) or a placebo (26 subjects) for one month (31 days). Before the treatment, researchers carried out a series of tests on the participants. They also carried out these tests at the end of the 31 days. Not only that, but they also carried out a test on participants four weeks later.

These participants were adults who currently had depression. The research team used the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale to evaluate and analyze participants’ depression.

The participants were divided into two groups. One group received probiotics over four weeks while the other group received a placebo.

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According to the researchers, the study results show probiotics had a greater impact on reducing depression than placebo

 

According to the researchers, the study results show probiotics had a greater impact on reducing depression than placebo. The Group of participants who received the probiotics had a higher rate of reduction in their depressive symptoms. The results also show, that there’s an increased amount of the bacteria called Lactobacillus among the gut flora of the participants who received the probiotic.

“With additional knowledge of the specific effect of certain bacteria, it may be possible to optimize the selection of bacteria and to use the best mix in order to support treatment for depression,” said Anna-Chiara Schaub, one of the lead authors of the study.

“A 4-week intervention period further facilitated clinical decision-making, i.e., to decide whether the combination of antidepressants [and] probiotics worked or not. The amelioration of depressive symptoms went along with [an] increased abundance of Lactobacillus,” Dr. André Schmidt, study author and neuroscientist explained to Medical News Today.

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According to Dr. Schmidt, these findings from the study results could help develop better and more efficient probiotics for treating depression in people. The research gives valuable information about the effect of probiotics on people with depression and indicates that the use of probiotics may be helpful in the treatment of depression.

In conclusion, probiotics can support and enhance the effectiveness of antidepressants.

Source study: Translational Psychiatry – Clinical, gut microbial and neural effects of a probiotic add-on therapy in depressed patients: A randomized controlled trial