Depression has been repeatedly linked to changes in the gut microbiome, with specific bacteria and bacteriophages found; yet more than a third of people with depression seek counselling and/or take antidepressant drugs, which have no effect on the problem.
People with depression are far more likely to have inflammatory bowel disease. In fact Crohn’s and Ulcerative colitis are even more prevalent (1).
While approximately 13% of the population experience depression, 21.2% of people with IBD experience it, and 31.4% during ‘flare ups’. Interestingly, it seems IBD can cause more depression and vice versa (2).
Common signs of depression
People with three or more of the following should consult their doctor:
- Persistent feelings of sadness and emptiness
- Persistent feelings of anxiety or stress
- Persistent feelings of negativity, nothing is important
- Persistent feelings of guilt and worthlessness
- Disinterest in previously enjoyable hobbies
- Changed sleep patterns
- Forgetfulness, lack of concentration
But do you need to take drugs? Why not try to Heal your Gut!!
Depression, inflammation and the microbiome
The two way process seems to be based around inflammation. Chemicals produced by bacteria in the microbiome can regulate inflammation in the nervous system of the brain (3).
In December 2020, an article (4) in Sciences Advances covered research on the microbiome and depression using metagenomics. Researchers identified 3 bacteriophages (viruses), 47 bacterial species and 50 metabolites that were present in different levels in people who had Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) when compared to healthy people.
People with depression had an increased abundance of the species Bacteroides, but decreased levels of the species, Blautia and Eubacterium. Butyrate, phenylalanine and tryptophan amino acid metabolism were significantly altered.
Certainly, people suffering from depression should consider their microbiome and diet, and read our article on the subject:
- Depression higher amongst Crohn’s and colitis sufferer
- Considering the bidirectional pathways between Depression and IBD; Gas and Hep; 2017; Laurie Keefer.
- Inflammation of Astrocytes controlled by microbiome
- Yang et al; Landscapes of bacterial and metabolic signatures; Science Advances Dec 2020