Diagnosing Depression Through the Gut?


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Depression affects more than 16 million Americans who are 18 years and older. Currently, there is no medical test to diagnose depression. We have the details on a study that looks to the bacteria found in your gut for answers.

Your gut instinct may be the key to diagnosing and treating depression. Your gut is filled with good and bad bacteria.

“They are dynamically interacting with our physiology, with our moods, with our medical health,” explained Bruce Stevens, PhD, a professor at University of Florida.

Stevens found those living with depression have different gut bacteria than those with a healthy mental status. When a person has too much of the bad gut bacteria that can cause whole-body inflammation, including brain inflammation, that can be linked to depression. But the gut bacteria can also lead to a treatment for depression.

“Some of the bacteria are responsive to certain antibiotics,” continued Stevens.

Diet can also help.

“High fiber, low sodium diets, and certain kinds of food groups can promote good guy bacteria,” shared Stevens.

Trusting your gut to treat depression.

Stevens also found there’s a link between gut bacteria and high blood pressure. In fact, people with high blood pressure and depression have completely different gut bacteria than people with only depression or only high blood pressure.

Contributors to this news report include: Milvionne Chery, Producer; and Roque Correa, Editor. 

REPORT #2799

BACKGROUND: Depression is a medical condition that is associated with symptoms such as melancholy, loss of pleasure, loss of energy, difficulty in concentrating, and suicidal thoughts. It is both a brain disorder and a state of mind. Depression affects over 18 million adults in the United States in any given year. It is the leading cause of disability for ages 15-44. Depression is the most prevalent, representing 99% of all mind-brain illness. The umbrella of depression encompasses major depressive disorder and its related mood disorders including bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome, anxiety disorder and suicide.

(Source: https://www.hopefordepression.org/depression-facts/)

GUT BACTERIA AND YOUR HEALTH: About 100 trillion bacteria, both good and bad, live inside the digestive system and are known as the gut microbiota. Science has begun to look more closely at how this enormous system of organisms influences and improves health conditions, from heart disease to arthritis to cancer. “This is a new frontier of medicine, and many are looking at the gut microbiota as an additional organ system,” says Dr. Elizabeth Hohmann of the infectious diseases division at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. “It’s most important to the health of our gastrointestinal system, but may have even more far-reaching effects on our well-being.” Everyone’s gut microbiota is unique, but there are certain combinations and collections of bacteria that are found in healthy individuals. The main factors that affect a person’s microbial mix are age, diet, environment, genes, and medications (particularly exposure to antibiotics, which can deplete gut bacteria). Gut microbiota metabolizes nutrients from food and certain medications, serves as a protective barrier against intestinal infections, and produces vitamin K, which helps make blood-clotting proteins. Most research has involved only preliminary animal studies; however, initial findings suggest gut bacteria may be the key to preventing or treating some common diseases.

(Source: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/can-gut-bacteria-improve-your-health)

THE FUTURE OF GUT HEALTH: Katya Gavrish, PhD, a microbiologist trained in Russia, and colleagues, are searching for new brain drugs in human stool samples. Diluting the samples is the first step toward isolating and culturing the bacteria in hopes it will produce new treatments for depression and other disorders of the brain and nervous system. Since its founding five years ago, Holobiome, a small start-up company in Massachusetts, has created one of the world’s largest collections of human gut microbes. The targeted ailments include depression and insomnia, as well as constipation, and visceral pain like that typical of irritable bowel syndrome which are conditions that may have neurological as well as intestinal components. A growing number of researchers see a promising alternative in microbe-based treatments, which are being called psychobiotics. “This is a really young and really exciting field with a huge amount of potential,” said Natalia Palacios, an epidemiologist at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, who is looking into connections between gut microbes and Parkinson’s disease.

(Source: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/05/meet-psychobiome-gut-bacteria-may-alter-how-you-think-feel-and-act)

* For More Information, Contact:

Bruce Stevens, PhD                                                               Ken Garcia, Media Relations

Professor, University of Florida                                              kdgarcia@ufl.edu



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