Do probiotic supplements reduce depression and anxiety?

I had always lumped probiotic therapy in with other nutritional woo, but recently I heard about a study that suggests that probiotic supplements reduce depression and anxiety. In a nutshell, “good” bacteria in the gut stimulate the production of mellow brain chemistry, and “bad” bacteria stimulate the production of brain chemicals that induce depression and anxiety.

Has anybody here tried probiotic supplements for depression or anxiety? Any anecdotal evidence that it helps? Experience with probiotic supplements as well as probiotic diets is appreciated.

Here is another articlethat suggests a connection between bad gut bacteria to anxiety:

There is not enough evidence to draw conclusions about probiotics and mental health. Right now, best evidence indicates they may be helpful in the area of GI diseases, allergies (particularly skin allergies like eczema) and certain vaginal infections.

I get a little depressed if my tummy isn’t feeling right especially if diarrhea is involved. If probiotic yogurt helps fix the problem, I’m happier. :slight_smile:

Are there any potential downsides I should consider before starting a probiotic supplement? YANMD

Just that there’s no proven benefit, and that there may be downsides of which we are not yet aware.

The official warning at UpToDate (the state of the art medical website):

IMHO, not a big risk, but there it is. All life is 6 to 5 against anyway.

Looks like great news if you’re a stressed mouse! :smiley:

In humans, we’re not so sure yet. Stay tuned for further developments. Of course, if you’re not immune impaired (HIV/AIDS, chemotherapy, etc.) then it’s unlikely for Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG to harm you. So if you can find an affordable probiotic with that particular strain, let us know how it works out for you.

UpToDate on yogurt as a probiotic:

Read your yogurt labels, though. Most yogurts don’t have Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, which is the one that makes mice happy. Organic Stonyfield’s yogurt line does (last I knew, anyway), but Activia (owned by Stonyfield) doesn’t, Oikos doesn’t, Dannon doesn’t, Yoplait doesn’t and Fage doesn’t.

For any probiotics in yogurt, make sure that it says “contains live active cultures” *not *“made with live active cultures”. Some manufacturers pasteurize the yogurt after it’s made, which kills the bacteria you want to consume alive. :smack:

That article is full of red flags suggesting at best premature enthusiasm, at worst outright quackery.

The psychiatrist (Greenblatt) is big on “alternative” medicine and uses a term “dysbiosis” which is not a recognized disorder in evidence-based medicine, but has been used as a catch-all term encompassing alleged “imbalance” or “overgrowth” of organisms (like Candida) which have not been shown to cause the diseases claimed for them, and can result in unnecessary treatment (and anxiety!).

The article uncritically mentions unsupported claims about autism and gut issues, and mentions the Great Plains Laboratory, which has come under fire for involvement in nonstandard tests (including “provoked” heavy metals testing in urine which is used to justify useless and potentially dangerous treatments of autistic children (such as chelation).

There is a sort of irony involved in giving autistic children a powerful broad-spectrum antibitiotic to eliminate supposed Clostridia in their G.I. tract to improve behavioral symptoms, when it is such antibiotics that commonly kill off beneficial bacteria in the G.I. tract in the first place (hint: it makes no sense to give kids probiotics in an attempt to improve mood/behavior, while at the same time whacking those “good bacteria” with antibiotics).

What is obviously lacking at this point are good controlled studies in which large numbers of patients with mood disorders or autism are given probiotics or a placebo and their signs/symptoms monitored over time. Until then, what we have is an interesting concept which some people have glommed onto and are running out of control with.

I like the idea of nonstressed mice though. They might be easier to trap.

I have IBS along with mood disorders and anxiety disorders. But I’m pretty sure the causative direction means that IBS is caused by the others. IOW, I shit because my brain is messed up, I don’t have mental trouble because my gut is bad. But of course a bad stomach at least doesn’t make you happy!

$$$ at least.

Activia is Dannon/Danone, as is Stonyfield. I guess the former is a brand, and Dannon owns at least 85% of Stonyfield so they’re not completely a Big Yogurt thrall :).

Activia claims they have “Bifidus Regularis.” Such a pleasing name, except that it’s a Dannon trademark and doesn’t mean anything. I guess they found the name “Bifidobacterium animalis” too nasty (I’m eating ANIMAL BACTERIA!?). Make sure you (OP) do research on which ones have the most and all, and aren’t jumping on the trend. I don’t know about probiotics here, but Greek yogurt is essentially a meaningless term

I have two brands of Greek-style yogurt: Chobani and a house brand from Hannafords Supermarket. Both list five live, active cultures: S. Thermophilus, L. Bulgaricus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus and L. Casei.

I thought yogurt was just for women?

Greek style just means it’s had much of the whey removed (classic method) or it’s been thickened with extra protein and thickeners. Nothing to tell you about cultures which may or may not be present or active.

Nice list, but doesn’t include the one studied in that study. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, and it may be better for some applications, but if you want to try the strategy in the study, keep looking. :slight_smile:

Yeah, I noticed, that’s why I am looking into supplements. Many brands of popular probiotics don’t include it either.

There’s also good evidence that probiotics help prevent colds:

Cochrane calls it weak, not good.

From your link:

So at best, maybe. Or maybe not. More and better designed studies would help answer the question.

I found it in a couple at Walmart today. (Unrelated to this thread, my husband asked me to find him a probiotic for his intermittent bowel issues, as the GI clinic has him on a waiting list.) The one I chose is Probaclac Healthy Flora Extra Strength, which I’ll let you google if you want to know all the 8 strains in it, cause I’m posting from my phone in the parking lot. :wink: I chose it because his problems are gut problems and it’s the closest formula I could find to the product I really want, something called VSL#3, which has shown interesting results in IBS and ulcerative colitis. I think I’m going to have to internet order that one, but we’ll try this in the meantime. Anyway, point is, this one and two others I saw have what you’re looking for, but I didn’t see any with that strain alone, only in blends.