A gut feeling: how probiotics fight depression

Probiotics you can buy over the counter at your local pharmacy can change the bacteria in your gut and help you deal better with stress, lift your mood and treat your depression. Evidence is in that the anti-inflammatory workings of tiny microbes in probiotics have a useful effect on the production of neurotransmitters, vitamins and regulation of the immune system – which happens in your intestine.

All good news if the daily grind has your stomach in knots.

All the bacteria living in your body, called your microbiome, plays a role in your mental health and most of that bacteria finds its home in your intestine. Studies show that keeping your microbiome in fine form has a direct positive impact on depression. Probiotics impact the microbiome in three helpful ways:

Probiotics help make neurotransmitters, which in turn are used by the gut to make serotonin, GABA, catecholamines, and acetylcholine. Big words. Bottom line – these put your brain in a good mood.

Probiotics help the body’s stress response system by positively influencing how the brain and adrenal glands deal with making cortisol when you’re under pressure.

Probiotics have an anti-inflammatory effect. Depression is an inflammation response, and this can come from your intestine. Probiotics help reduce this.

Probiotics reported to help with depression are:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus casei
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum
  • Bifidobacterium longum

Don’t rely on probiotics alone, though. It’s pointless if you continue with poor eating habits – make sure your diet limits gluten and sugar. Getting some sun on your skin, talking to someone about your difficulties, proper sleep are all part of the solution as well.

A good probiotic can do you good – try it for a month as part of your plan to dig your way out of the hole you find yourself in.