Is Depression All In The Stomach?

Is Depression All In The Stomach?


Depression is a serious mental health problem that affects millions of people worldwide. It is a complex disorder that can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, environmental factors, and brain chemistry. However, recent research has shown that there may be a link between depression and the gut microbiome.

The Gut-Brain Axis

The gut-brain axis is a term used to describe the connection between the gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system. This connection serves as a communication pathway between the two systems, allowing them to interact and influence each other.

Research has shown that the gut microbiome, which is the collection of microorganisms that live in the gut, plays a key role in the gut-brain axis. The microbiome is important for gut health, and studies have suggested that it may also play a role in brain function and behavior.

The Link Between Depression and the Gut Microbiome

Several studies have found a link between depression and the gut microbiome. One study published in the journal Nature Microbiology found that people with depression have significantly different gut microbiomes than those without depression. Specifically, they found an increase in bacteria that are associated with inflammation and a decrease in bacteria that are associated with anti-inflammatory effects.

Another study published in the journal Psychopharmacology found that people with depression who took a probiotic supplement saw an improvement in their symptoms. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can be ingested through food or supplements, and they have been shown to improve gut health. This suggests that targeting the gut microbiome with probiotics could be a potential treatment for depression.

Other studies have also suggested that the gut microbiome may play a role in the effectiveness of antidepressant medication. One study published in the journal Nature Microbiology found that mice with a disrupted gut microbiome did not respond as well to antidepressant medication as mice with a healthy gut microbiome. This suggests that the gut microbiome may influence how the body responds to antidepressants.

The Role of Diet in Depression

Diet is an important factor that can impact the gut microbiome and overall health. Studies have suggested that people who consume a diet high in processed foods and sugar have a less diverse gut microbiome, which can lead to inflammation and other health problems.

On the other hand, a diet that is rich in whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can promote a diverse and healthy gut microbiome. The Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and healthy fats like olive oil, has been shown to have a protective effect against depression.

Additionally, some research has suggested that certain foods and nutrients may directly impact mood. For example, omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fatty fish like salmon, have been shown to have a positive effect on depression.


While the link between depression and the gut microbiome is still being studied, the research suggests that there may be a connection. Targeting the gut microbiome with probiotics, dietary changes, and other interventions may be a potential treatment for depression. As research in this area continues, it is important to consider the role of gut health in mental health and explore all potential avenues for treatment.


FAQs about “Is Depression All In The Stomach”

1. Can mood disorders be influenced by gut health?

Yes, several recent studies have shown strong links between gut health and mental health. In particular, there is a growing body of research that has explored the gut-brain axis and how the microbiome can affect our moods and emotions.

2. How can I improve my gut health?

There are several strategies that can help improve gut health, including eating a balanced and varied diet, avoiding processed foods and sugar, and consuming probiotic-rich foods like yogurt and fermented vegetables. Regular exercise and getting enough sleep can also improve gut health.

3. What treatments are available for depression and mood disorders?

There are several treatments available for depression and mood disorders, including talk therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. Different treatments work for different people, and it’s essential to work with a healthcare professional to determine the best course of action for your individual needs. Some newer treatments, such as gut-directed psychotherapy and probiotics, are showing promise in treating certain types of depression and anxiety.


1. Lee, Y. K., & Shin, J. S. (2018). Gut microbiota and depression. Journal of Korean medical science, 33(47), e299. doi: 10.3346/jkms.2018.33.e299

2. Foster, J. A., Rinaman, L., & Cryan, J. F. (2017). Stress & the gut-brain axis: Regulation by the microbiome. Neurobiology of stress, 7, 124-136. doi: 10.1016/j.ynstr.2017.03.001

3. Slyepchenko, A., Maes, M., & Kohler, C. A. (2016). Depression, anxiety, and gastrointestinal disorders: Association and mechanisms. Handbook of stress and anxiety: Concepts, research and practice, 373-382. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_21