A study published by the Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics Journal has found a link between depression and a common class of stomach drugs called proton pump inhibitors. The lead author of the new study is Wei-Sheng Huang, from the Department of Psychiatry at the Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan. Huang and the team’s research suggests that disrupting the guts bacteria through these drugs can cause major depressive disorders. Research has found that mice deprived of certain bacteria will exhibit signs of anxiety, depression and cognitive impairment. The absence of specific bacteria can trigger depression in rodents and furthermore, supplementing said bacteria can reverse signs of depression.
“Since the bacteria in our gut can alter the function of our brain by producing certain hormones or neurotransmitters—and emotional responses can, in turn, affect our gut bacteria—it should come as no surprise that some studies have found a link between post-traumatic stress disorder and certain strains of bacteria.”
The study assessed the data of nearly 12,000 subjects taking the inhibitors, almost a third of which developed depressive behaviors. Believing this to be the first study of its kind, the authors concluded the drugs may add risk of depression by interfering with the stomach’s equilibrium with the brain, or indirectly by limiting the effectiveness of nutrient absorption. Studies continue to find that gut bacteria may influence our mental and emotional well being. Huang et al. has set the groundwork for further research and recommend future studies investigate the pathophysiology behind the association they found.