Study Provides Evidence That Probiotics Might Prove a Viable Treatment For Depression

Background: Recent insights into the role of the human microbiota in cognitive and affective functioning have led to the hypothesis that probiotic supplementation may act as an adjuvant strategy to ameliorate or prevent depression. Objective: Heightened cognitive reactivity to normal, transient changes in sad mood is an established marker of vulnerability to depression and is considered an important target for interventions. The present study aimed to test if a multispecies probiotic containing Bifidobacterium bifidum W23, Bifidobacterium lactis W52, Lactobacillus acidophilus W37, Lactobacillus brevis W63, Lactobacillus casei W56, Lactobacillus salivarius W24, and Lactococcus lactis (W19 and W58) may reduce cognitive reactivity in non-depressed individuals.

Design: In a triple-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, pre- and post-intervention assessment design, 20 healthy participants without current mood disorder received a 4-week probiotic food-supplement intervention with the multispecies probiotics, while 20 control participants received an inert placebo for the same period. In the pre- and post-intervention assessment, cognitive reactivity to sad mood was assessed using the revised Leiden index of depression sensitivity scale.

Results: Compared to participants who received the placebo intervention, participants who received the 4-week multispecies probiotics intervention showed a significantly reduced overall cognitive reactivity to sad mood, which was largely accounted for by reduced rumination and aggressive thoughts.

Conclusion: These results provide the first evidence that the intake of probiotics may help reduce negative thoughts associated with sad mood. Probiotics supplementation warrants further research as a potential preventive strategy for depression.

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