24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (877)SAFEGBC or (877)723-3422 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Issues

6502 Nursery Drive, Suite 100
Victoria, TX 77904
(361)575-0611
(800)421-8825

Depression: Depression & Related Conditions
Resources
Basic Information
Introduction and Types of Depressive DisordersRelated Disorders / ConditionsHistorical and Current UnderstandingsBiology, Psychology and SociologyTreatment - Medication and PsychotherapyAlternative Medicine and Self-Help ResourcesSpecial IssuesReferences
More InformationTestsLatest News
Depression Plus HIV Can Turn DeadlyBrain Stimulation May Soothe Severe DepressionFussy Baby May Raise Mom's Risk of DepressionAbuse in Childhood Tied to Brain Changes and Later DepressionFDA Approves First Drug for Postpartum DepressionNutritional Supplements Don't Ward Off Depression: StudyFDA Approves Ketamine-Like Drug for Severe DepressionFDA Poised to Approve Ketamine-Like Drug to Ease DepressionAcne Drug Accutane May Not Depress Mood After AllHealth Tip: Beat the Winter BluesAHA News: Post-Stroke Depression Common Among Black, Hispanic SurvivorsHealth Tip: Recognizing Signs of Depression in TeensCould Germs in Your Gut Send You Into Depression?Simple Treatments to Banish Winter BluesMillennials' Odds for Depression Rise With Social Media UseListen Up! Hearing Loss Tied to Late-Life DepressionHealth Tip: Risk Factors for Depression After PregnancyHead to the Movies, Museums to Keep Depression at BayThe Link Between Social Media and DepressionMany Say Ketamine Eased Their Depression, But Is It Safe?Docs Should Screen for Depression During, After PregnancyBrexit Had Brits Turning to Antidepressants: StudyDepression Is a Risk for Teens, Adults With EpilepsyStimulating One Brain Area May Ease Tough-to-Treat DepressionAnti-Seizure Drug May Be New Weapon Against DepressionMichael Phelps Champions the Fight Against DepressionFacebook Posts May Hint at DepressionDo Dimmer Days in Pregnancy Raise Postpartum Depression Risk?Depression Strikes Nearly 1 in 5 Young Adults With Autism: StudyNew Dads Can Get the Baby Blues, TooHealth Tip: Help a New Mom With Postpartum DepressionCould a Blood Test Help Spot Severe Depression?Treating Depression May Prevent Repeat Heart AttackSupportive Managers Key When a Worker Is DepressedIs Depression During Pregnancy on the Rise?Preventive Intervention for Premature Infants Effective
Questions and AnswersLinks
Related Topics

Anxiety Disorders
Bipolar Disorder
Suicide
Addictions: Alcohol and Substance Abuse
Pain Management

Could Germs in Your Gut Send You Into Depression?

HealthDay News
by By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter
Updated: Feb 4th 2019

new article illustration

MONDAY, Feb. 4, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Certain bacteria dwelling in the human gut might feed depression, according to a new study that adds evidence to the theory.

Researchers found that among over 2,100 adults, those with depression showed differences in specific groups of gut bacteria. And people with higher concentrations of certain other gut bugs generally reported better mental well-being.

The research, published online Feb. 4 in Nature Microbiology, is the latest to uncover links between human health and the gut microbiome. The term refers to the trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms that live in the intestines.

Those microbes are believed to do much more than aid in digestion. Research suggests they are involved in everything from immune system defenses to producing vitamins, anti-inflammatory compounds and even chemicals that influence the brain.

But most research on such "gut-brain" communication has been done in animals, said Jeroen Raes, the senior researcher on the new study.

So his team looked for links between gut microbes and depression among over 2,100 adults taking part in two health studies. The investigators found that levels of two specific groups of gut bacteria -- Coprococcus and Dialister -- were "consistently depleted" in people with depression.

Meanwhile, people with higher levels of Coprococcus, and another group of bacteria called Faecalibacterium, typically gave better ratings to their quality of life.

Both types of bacteria break down dietary fiber to produce an anti-inflammatory compound called butyrate.

None of that proves those bacteria somehow contribute to -- or protect from -- depression, according to Raes, a professor at KU Leuven-University of Leuven, in Belgium.

But, he said, further studies should zero in on the bugs.

"After all the mouse studies," Raes said, "we now finally have robust human data that points to interesting target organisms that, in the future, may lead to drugs and novel probiotics."

Dr. Emeran Mayer is a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine and author of the book The Mind-Gut Connection.

Mayer said the new findings add to evidence of an association between the gut and mental well-being.

But like Raes, he said they do not prove any particular microbes cause depression.

"It's the chicken-and-egg question," Mayer said. "People with depression certainly have different diets, and different habits, than people without depression. And that would affect the gut microbiome."

Mayer suspects there may be a "circular process," where depressed people can have changes in the composition of their gut microbes -- and that, in turn, "reinforces" the depression symptoms.

Raes said further research is needed to see whether there is such a "vicious cycle." For now, he said, "we can't say that."

Studies in recent years, largely in animals, have been uncovering links between the composition of the gut microbiome and the risks of various health conditions -- from other brain-related disorders, like dementia, to obesity, to autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

But the degree to which gut bacteria contribute to any human diseases remains unclear.

And even if the gut microbiome does influence depression symptoms, Mayer doubted that anything as simple as a probiotic supplement would offer a quick fix. Both the microbiome and depression are too complex.

However, he said, gut bacteria churn out metabolic byproducts -- or "postbiotics." And research into those compounds should give insight into how the microbiome may benefit or feed human ills.

Mayer said he believes that any effective therapy aimed at the gut would have to affect its microbe balance "globally" -- as opposed to simply adding a bacterial strain or two.

Diet changes can do that, he pointed out.

In this study, there were hints that butyrate-producing bacteria were beneficial. And, Mayer said, those bacteria make butyrate when they break down various fibers from plant foods.

"I'd say eat a diet that's largely plant-based and highly variable in the types of plant foods," Mayer said. "If you're just eating tomatoes, that's not enough."

That's not just for the sake of producing butyrate, either. Based on what's known so far, Mayer said, it's the diversity of our gut bacteria that matters: The more diverse our microbes, the better.

And a diet low in processed foods and rich in plant foods -- vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and grains -- supports a more diverse gut microbiome, Mayer said.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more on the human microbiome.