Depression is generally of a disorder of the brain. But a new research has claimed that it is linked to the gut too. The study published on December 6th in Nature Communications suggests that a human’s gut microbiome and depression could be related.
A microbiome refers to all the microbes or microorganisms that live in your body. Gut microbiome is the colony of microorganisms in your stomach and intestines. It performs a lot of important functions for your body, which includes the brain too.
The recent studies have pointed to the fact that certain strains of bacteria in the gut might aggravate depressive symptoms while other strains might decrease them.
In the two studies, researchers found out 13 varieties of bacteria that were positively related with depressive symptoms. In some people with depression, gut bacteria was less, while in others, it’s level was too high.
Ultimately, the researchers found out that an individual with a highly diverse gut microbiome has a lesser chance of experiencing depression. The experts, however, have said the discovery doesn’t actually prove that a particular microbe causes or shields against depression.
Director of the Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress at the University of California, Dr. Emeran Mayer, said that the bacteria in the gut change in quantity and diversity in the presence of any chronic illness. He also stated that the findings might be relevant to all the diseases in general and not only depression.
These groundbreaking findings from the study may prove to be very useful in gaining more insights on depression and it’s treatment. There are a lot of things still unknown about the disorder and if the gut and depressive symptoms are really linked, it would help in developing new treatment options.
What Is Depression
Depression is a very common illness. Nearly 280 million people suffer from the ailment. It is different from the usual mood changes and sadness. It is a disorder of the mood that results in a persistent feeling of hopelessness, emptiness and grief.
Events like death, loss of job, separation from someone, etc can result in symptoms of depression. And it persists even after the circumstances change. Several ongoing conditions like asthma, heart diseases and obesity can worsen due to depression.
Depression may last for many days, weeks, months or even years. If you suspect you are suffering from this disorder, do not hesitate to take a medical advice.
What Causes Depression
There are numerous causes of depression. Some of them are:-
- Age– Elderly people are at a higher risk suffering from depression.
- Substance Abuse– Alcohol and drug use can aggravate the symptoms of depression.
- Various Medications– Some medications can increase the risk of depressive episodes.
- Life Circumstances– Events like divorce, death, loss of job, retirement, moving to a new city, physical or mental abuse, etc can lead to depression. Though, ‘positive’ events like marriage, new job, graduation, etc can be a cause as well.
- Genetics– A person is at a higher risk of developing depression if he/she has a family history of mental health issues.
- Hormones– Hormonal changes in women throughout their lives make them much more susceptible to depression than men.
What Are The General Signs Of Depression
Following are some of the signs and symptoms that are generally seen in people dealing with depression:-
- Sleep issues; difficulty in sleeping or waking up.
- Low energy.
- Appetite changes; eating too much or too little.
- Feeling angry and anxious.
- Chronic aches and pains; headache, backache, joint pains, etc.
- Digestive issues.
- Talking and moving very slowly.
- Feeling ’empty’.
- Feeling hopeless and demotivated.
How Is Depression Treated
Symptoms of depression can be very well managed with single or a combination of treatments. Generally, treatments for depression include:-
- Psychotherapy– It includes talking to a professional or a trained therapist to identify and deal with the causes of depression.
- Medications– like SSRIs, SNRIs, TCAs.
- CBT– Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps to recognise negative behavioral patterns and coping mechanisms.
- Exercise– Exercising for at least 30 minutes daily or 4-5 days a week increases endorphins, the happiness hormone.
- Dietary Changes– Changes in your diet can also ease depression. A diet rich in vitamin B12, vitamin B6, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids is important for brain health.