The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a growing mental health crisis. There is new research that says groundbreaking new evidence suggesting organisms found in the gut microbiome are critical players in predicting depression in patients. That there is a link between microbiome health and depression during the pandemic. There are a number of holistic interventions to combat depressive disorders such as changes in diet, probiotics, sleep, and stress management. We spoke to renowned microbiome scientist, Mahmoud Ghannoum, about potential new solutions for depression through gut health. Keep reading for more!
Dr. Ghannoum is the foremost authority on the topic and was called “the leading microbiome researcher in the world” by The Washington Post. He is widely known for naming the mycobiome, the fungal community in the body. In addition to his research, Dr. Ghannoum is the founder of BIOHM. It is the first company to create probiotics and microbiome tests that address bacteria and fungi in the gut.
Organisms Found in the Gut May Predict Depression, According to Science
Within a 1-month period at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a reported 34.1% increase in prescriptions for anti-anxiety medications. There was also an 18.6% increase in antidepressant prescriptions and a 14.8% increase in common anti-insomnia drugs. Within these treatments, clinical trials show that 30 – 40% of depressed patients do not respond to their first-line antidepressant treatment. 70% do not achieve complete remission of symptoms. 20% never show a reduction in depressive symptoms even when accounting for multiple antidepressants and various methods of action.
These worries were highlighted under the concept of COVID Stress Syndrome, a newly proposed syndrome by scientists that is still under investigation. It seems there is a correlation. Although the respiratory syndrome is the main symptom of COVID19 infection, gastrointestinal symptoms do make up a number of COVID-19 cases. Scientists can distinguish between individuals with and without depression by analyzing their microbiome makeup. It is clear that the gut microbiomes makeup in individuals with depressive disorders lacks the appropriate levels of beneficial microorganisms.
The Microbiome Approach to Treating Depression
Dr. Ghannoum proposes a multifaceted approach to manage depression. It involves rebalancing and maintaining the gut microbiome through diet, probiotics, and specific lifestyle changes. This proposed diet incorporates all aspects of the microbiome using foods to support a healthy gut and reduce overall inflammation with potent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant foods rich in targeted vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial constituents. Probiotics are also great to restore the gut balance. You can add beneficial probiotic strains such as Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, and Saccharomyces boulardii. These also decrease the likelihood of colonization by pathogens.