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New research examines how probiotics may affect depression

Symptoms of depression include apathy, guilt, hopelessness, changes in body weight, insomnia, and irritability. While these symptoms are usually the focus of treatment, there is also a long list of cognitive symptoms, such as difficulty concentrating, indecisiveness, and memory problems.

A new study shows a popular dietary supplement may help with the cognitive problems associated with depression. This randomized controlled trial of over 40 patients showed that high-dose probiotic supplementation over four weeks significantly improved memory and affected the brain mechanisms underlying depressive cognitive problems.

Specifically, the results showed that people in the probiotic group had improved hippocampal function (the part of the brain responsible for emotions and memory) at the end of the study period. That’s what the authors of the study predicted. As lead author Else Schneider, Ph.D., explained in an interview, “It supports our hypothesis that the hippocampus is the main structure that benefits from probiotics, and therefore we only see improvements in episodic memory and not in other cognitive areas, which are less hippocampal dependent.”

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