UC Researching One of the Largest Studies On Depression
UC Researching One of the Largest Studies On
April 30, 2013
A University of Canterbury (UC) researcher is undertaking a large study testing the effects of probiotics on people suffering depression.
A UC psychology research PhD student Amy Romijn is specifically carrying out her study looking at probiotics in a depressed population.
``This is the biggest study on people who have overt psychological symptoms. Other academic studies have investigated the effects of probiotics versus placebo on mostly healthy volunteers,’’ Romijn says.
``One in six New Zealanders will experience serious depression at some time in their life. About one in seven young people in New Zealand will experience a major depressive disorder before the age of 24.
``Women have higher rates of depression than men. One in five women, compared with one in eight men, will have depression over their lifetime.
``The World Health Organisation estimates that by the year 2020, depression will be the second most common cause of ill health and premature worldwide.
``I hope my study will find that treatment with probiotics changes the levels of certain substances in the blood and the brain, essentially making people happier. I will be testing 80 people over a 16-week period.
``We want to find out if probiotics are more effective than a placebo in reducing the psychological symptoms of depression.
``There are many links in the literature which lead us to believe that probiotics will work to treat depression. Many studies have had success in treating symptoms of stress and inflammation with probiotics and there is a firm association between stress and depression and biological links between depression and inflammation.
``We’re also trying to find out about the way probiotics exert their effects on psychological symptoms by measuring for chemicals in blood samples. Higher stress levels are associated with lowered friendly gut bacteria so it’s probably a two way street,’’ Romijn says.
Researchers believe probiotics helps depression but the UC research, supervised by Associate Professor Julia Rucklidge, seeks to find out how. Participants in the study will be screened via www.mentalhealthandnutrition.co.nz.
Amy Romijn with probiotics