Q. My acupuncturist recommended the probiotic Lactobacillus GG for my recurrent depression. After a week, it seems to be making a difference. It has also helped with my intermittent nighttime reflux. Have you ever heard of probiotics for depression?

A. A new study in the journal Gastroenterology (June, 2013) suggests that your experience could be based on science. Researchers randomized healthy women to take yogurt-containing probiotics, a nonfermented milk product control or nothing at all. The women ate the yogurt or placebo twice daily. Brains were scanned with a functional MRI imaging machine before and after the intervention.

The authors concluded that four weeks’ intake of yogurt-containing probiotics by healthy women “affected activity of brain regions that control central processing of emotion and sensation.” There is growing recognition that the bacteria in our digestive tracts may play a key role in our emotional wellbeing and affect both anxiety and depression (Current Opinion in Pharmacology, Dec, 2012).

To learn more about a variety of other non-drug strategies for coping with the blues, we are sending you our Guide to Dealing with Depression. There is also more information about probiotics in our hour-long radio show on Probiotics for Health.

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  1. lori

    Thanks to peoplespharmacy for introducing me to consumerlabs.com and their description of “Activia” as a very effective probiotic. I’ve had lots of yogurts over the years and many supplements but I must say this Activia by Dannon is really something special. Yes anti-depressant, yes helps regularity. And you know I eat nothing from a package–everything whole food from scratch I even own a share of an organic cow and make my own raw milk yogurt but the bifidula Dannon got patented has got to be tried by those who have tried it all.

  2. kdelphi

    I received an email from here that a 79 yr old lady was concerned that she did not like yogurt and wondered if it would help with night sweats… to the first question, yes, there are plenty of probiotic pills and even foods containing acidophilus that are now offered—they are very variable in their potency, and, of course, since supplements are not checked for ingredients by the govt. in the US, they might not have much of anything in them! And I have not heard of them for night sweats.
    I hope you have checked with your doctor about those…. but it might be worth it to try Acidophilus capsules. Just ask your pharmacist for them. They are rather expensive, but my doctor told me not to use that as a yardstick to their effectiveness. He used to prescribe me one, then, my insurance (Medicaid) decided to stop covering it and it was almost $200 for a month’s supply, so I had to switch to a generic brand. I don’t really notice any difference.

  3. Paul 43

    I have the same question as TH

  4. Paul 43

    I would like to know the answer to TH’s question.

  5. T.H.

    What is the difference between Lactobacillus G G and Lactobacillus Acidophilis?

  6. KDelphi

    I have had a colectomy (colon removed) does anyone know what effect that would have (I am chronically depressed, but I was before, also).

  7. mcm

    Yes, probiotics are available in capsule form, most vitamin stores/health food stores sell them- many brands available and in different ‘strengths’…

  8. Kevin B.

    Yes and could it be that the probiotics help to control the yeast or Candida overgrowth and one of the symptoms associated with Yeast problems is depression and no energy.

  9. Shirley

    Is there any way to take probiotics without eating yogurt? I hate the taste of it. I’m having a problem with night sweats and mild depression. Caring for husband with early dementia. I’m 79 and haven’t had a problem with night sweats for about 25 years. A friend suggested probiotics.
    People’s Pharmacy response: You may find probiotic capsules in the refrigerated section of your health food store.

  10. L.A.

    This makes so much sense. If you aren’t properly digesting food and essential nutrients, you can’t function. Better absorption with the pro-biotics helps you get those trace elements your system may not normally take in and in-turn better brain function and mood.

  11. Geraldine B.

    this looks interesting, but I am dairy-sensitive, and only use almond or rice milk. is the product available alone?
    People’s Pharmacy response: Lactobacillus G G is a probiotic that thrives in milk, but it may be available alone. Look for it in the refrigerated section of the health food store.

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