Clinical depression is a growing problem in the developed world, and certain demographics are at higher risk of suffering the damage of the disorder. Women have always faced a higher risk of depression, and the introduction of stress from the radical life changes that occur after childbirth push this risk higher. Post-partum depression is not a new problem, and a lengthening list of studies have been performed to identify specific areas of difficulty for new mothers and how these contribute to post-partum depression.
Hospitals and birthing centers have responded to these threats by screening new mothers to identify those with a higher risk. Those with sufficient risk factors have been found to benefit substantially from brief sessions of cognitive therapy. Another tactic has shown promise in preventing and treating depression with lower cost and less medical intervention. Regular use of probiotics has been found to mediate emotional disorders, potentially preventing them altogether.
The human body serves as host for a huge number of bacteria. Proportionally few of these are pathogenic, and the majority play vital roles in the body, such as enhancing the immune system and recycling nutrients. The greatest concentration of bacteria is found in the digestive system, where they help to process soluble fiber, unlock nutrients, and produce enzymes. Certain conditions can cause a decline in beneficial bacteria, such as:
* severe or prolonged stress
* an unhealthy diet
New others face a combination of these factors, and damage to bacterial populations in the gut has been linked to emotional disorders. Research has shown that supplementing with probiotics can reduce the risk of developing depression. Rather than targeting only cases of clinical depression, probiotic therapy is a holistic response to the problem that aids overall health.
Research on Probiotics and Depression
The link between intestinal bacteria and brain function has been confirmed in several gold-standard studies. These placebo-controlled, double-blind trials provide evidence that probiotics can help lower the risk of depression and treat existing cases. A peer-reviewed study published in Gut Pathogens featured 39 patients diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a condition known for causing symptoms of anxiety, depression and other emotional disturbances.(3) The randomized, experimental group receiving probiotics saw significant reductions in emotional disturbance.
Another study showing the relationship between probiotic supplementation and mood was published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.(4) 124 participants were randomly grouped and screened on common mood and cognition indicators. Probiotics had no known effect on those with generally good mood, but those with poor scores found significant improvement.
Seeking Probiotic Help for Depression
If the symptoms of depression are already evident, it is important to immediately seek help. Probiotics can provide relief, but self-medication is not advisable with this serious disorder. No study has compared probiotic blends for efficacy, and doctors can provide advice on finding the highest quality blends and the right dosage.