Can Probiotics Have a Postive Effect on Depression?

New research finds that our gut bacteria linked with negative thinking – and supplementing probiotics can reduce negative thoughts.

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Triple-blind study finds probiotics affect negative thoughts

Research from the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition in The Netherlands has determined that one’s gut bacteria indeed will affect our negative thinking and cognitive state.

The research studied 40 healthy people for four weeks. The group was split into two groups. One group was given a probiotic supplement each day. The other group was given a placebo for the same period. This was a triple-blind study.

After the four weeks, the patients were tested for negative thinking and cognitive reactivity for moods of sadness. The researchers found a significant reduction in negative thinking among the probiotic group. They also had lower cognitive reactions to sadness compared with the placebo group.

The researchers concluded:

“These results provide the first evidence that the intake of probiotics may help reduce negative thoughts associated with sad mood.”

The probiotic species used in the formula were: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobacillus brevis, Lactobacillus casei, Lactococcus lactis and Lactobacillus salivarius.

What is Cognitive Reactivity to Sadness?

The notion of cognitive reactivity was developed as part of cognitive behavior therapy – which serves to investigate the source of a person’s depression. Reductions in negative thinking have been associated with decreased depression symptoms.

The therapy method has found that negative thinking often helps prevent a depressed person from improving. Negative thinking doesn’t necessary produce depression, however.

Research from Leiden University has studied this element of cognitive reactivity to sad moods along with depression. A questionnaire protocol developed at Leiden – called the Leiden Index of Depression Sensitivity (LEIDS) – has been found to help determine to what degree a person’s negative thinking leads to an increase in depressed thoughts.

In a study led by Dr. Willem Van der Does at Leiden University, 198 people answered a questionnaire that tested for the LEIDS index. They did not find that depression and cognitive dysfunction were linked to cognitive reactivity. But they found the LEIDS index does adequately measure one’s cognitive reactivity.


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