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microbiome depression and anxiety<br />

May 2024


The Microbiome

  • Microbiome 101
  • The Microbiome & The Immune System
  • Microbiome, Digestion & Metabolism
  • The Microbiome & Your Mood

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Gut Feeling – Microbiome and Your Mood

Mood disorders are at the forefront of the conditions that Americans are struggling with. 

Depression and anxiety can be very disruptive to a person’s life. They could lead to heart disease, addiction, a hard time keeping a job, and life choices that put the depressed person in challenging situations.

Conventional medicine treatments for depression are mostly limited to the use of SSRIs, a medicine that increases serotonin levels in the brain. About 30% of people with chronic or severe depression don’t respond to SSRIs, so they are left without a way to resolve their mood issues. 

gut bacteria depression and anxiety

The gut brain axis

The gut-brain axis is a two-way communication system between the central and enteric nervous systems, linking the emotional and cognitive centers of the brain with the bundle of nerves in the solar plexus. Recent advances in research have described the importance of the gut microbiome in influencing these interactions. This interaction between the microbiome and the nervous system involves two-way communication through signaling from the gut microbiome to the brain and from the brain to the gut microbiome using neuron signaling, hormones, and immune messengers.

How Dysbiosis Affects the Brain

The human gut is home to trillions of bacteria. Dysbiosis, an imbalance between different strains of bacteria, has been linked to leaky gut and systemic inflammation. Systemic inflammation is associated with neuroinflammation and is linked to several mental health conditions. 

The human gut also has the second-highest concentration of nerves after the brain, leading researchers to believe that shifts in gut bacteria might lead to depression. 

Dysbiosis can activate the stress response in the brain. This chronic overstimulation can lead to higher cortisol levels, which, if prolonged, can have various adverse health outcomes, including impaired immune function and increased susceptibility to mental health disorders like anxiety and depression.

 Animals grown in a sterile environment in complete isolation from bacteria exhibit elevated stress hormones, which were normalized after they were exposed to bacteria.

On the other hand, a strain of gut microbiome called Lactobacillus reuteri has been found to upregulate oxytocin, which, among other things, reduces depression and anxiety by increasing resilience to stress.

To conclude, humans seem to be social beings who need not only other humans but also our good old friends, the microbiome, to help regulate our nervous systems. 

How depression affects the microbiome

Researchers found evidence linking depression to changes in the microbiome that may lead to dysbiosis. 

In animal studies, a diet high in simple carbs and fats changed the number and types of bacterial strains in the mice’s gut, and their behavior showed patterns typical of depression. Another study showed that when feces from people with depression were transplanted into mice, the mice developed depressive symptoms. 

Studies found that in people with depression, the microbiome is missing strains of bacteria that are common in other people. These strains are associated with synthesizing serotonin, GABA, glutamate, and butyrate. Serotonin, GABA, and glutamate are neurotransmitters essential for mood regulation. Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid produced by some strains of gut bacteria that acts as an antidepressant. 

 Different types of psychological stress, including maternal separation, being exposed to bullying repeatedly, crowding, meaning living in a densely populated space with no access to resources, heat stress, and acoustic stress, were linked to changes in the composition and numbers of the microbiome.  

To sum it all up, imbalances in the microbiome can lead to depression by:

  • Increasing gut permeability and systemic inflammation which leads to neuroinflammation. 
  • Reducing the synthesis of serotonin, GABA, glutamate, and Buytrate, which are vital for mood regulation. 
  • Activating and worsening the stress response.

Dysbiosis and depression can form a vicious cycle where one leads to the other in a cycle that intensifies both the depression and the dysbiosis. 

A holistic approach to mental health recognizes the connection between lifestyle, including diet, movement, sleep, and stress management, as some of the aspects that might influence the microbiome, which will affect mood regulation. 

If you are one of the 21 million Americans or 280 million people worldwide who are struggling with depression and anxiety, please know that you are not alone.

 I can help

Now that you know that a balanced microbiome is important for your mental health, what can you do about it? The Epidemic Of Absence is a six-week program that teaches a four-step protocol for rebooting your microbiome.

It’s a lot!
But that is why I am here.
Need help to figure out the details? Do you need support while implementing an inflammation-free lifestyle?
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Disclaimer: This document is for educational and informational purposes only and solely as a self-help tool for your own use. I am not providing medical, psychological, or nutrition therapy advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your own medical practitioner. Always seek the advice of your own medical practitioner and/or mental health provider about your specific health situation. You can view my full disclaimer here.
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