10 best probiotics for depression and anxiety

Writen By: Sadia Mirza
Reviewed By: Huma Khan
Publish Date: January 27, 2024

Introduction

Are you tired of feeling weighed down by the heavy clouds of depression and anxiety? Plus, are you searching for natural solutions to make peace in your mind and deal with mental health problems? Then, Probiotics can be the best option for that.

There are many best probiotics for mental health that could be helpful for depression and anxiety. Probiotics are living bacteria and yeasts that are beneficial for your gut plus mental health. 

In this article, we will look for 10 best probiotics for depression and anxiety. We will also dive deeper at the research and uncover the best probiotic supplement for mental health that alleviates symptoms of depression and anxiety. Get ready to discover the power of gut health in improving mental well being.

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are live microorganisms such as bacteria and yeast that are beneficial for our body by keeping our gut healthy. Our gut is already home to trillions of bacteria, including good ones and bad ones. These trillions of bacteria residing in our gut are collectively known as ‘the microbiome’.

The microbiomes that are good for our digestive system are known as ‘good’ or ‘helpful’ bacteria.

How do Probiotics Contribute to Gut Health?

As probiotics help with gut health, doctors often prescribe them when you feel problems related to digestion. There are ways in which it contributes to our gut health. Let’s find out:

  • Our digestive system has many bacterias. What probiotics do is that it adds to our existing supply of microorganisms such as good bacteria that are present in our gut. They boost the immunity by interacting with immune cells in the gut lining.
  • They facilitate smooth directions and food absorption through the enzymes it produces by breaking down complex carbohydrates and sugars. They help in promoting regular bowel movements, gut motility and prevent constipation and diarrhea.
  • Probiotics fight the bad bacteria that aren’t good for you and prevent them from causing infections and inflammation.

The best way to take probiotics is in the form of a diet as it is a natural way to increase your probiotic intake and improve your gut health.

The Link Between Gut Health and Mental Health or Can probiotics help with depression and anxiety?

Our brain and gut are connected in fascinating ways. They are in constant communication forming a complex system known as the gut-brain axis (GBA). The link between gut health and mental health shows that the health of our gut has a great impact on our minds. Research shows that inflammation of our gut has been linked to various mental illnesses including anxiety and depression. 

Studying the gut-brain connection shows their complexity and how they are intertwined:

Neurotransmitter Production

Our gut is responsible for producing a large amount of the happy hormone ‘serotonin’, and also other neurotransmitters such as dopamine and GABA. These hormones directly affect our mood, emotions, and sleep. 

So, when your gut bacteria become imbalanced it disrupts neurotransmitter production causing anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Research indicates that imbalances in gut microbes result in different psychiatric disorders.

Inflammation

The inflammation of the gut results in the release of inflammatory molecules that travel all over the body, affecting our brain and nervous system. This leads to mood disorders, cognitive decline, and other diseases like Alzheimer’s.

The Vagus Nerve

The pathway between the brain and the gut is known as Vagus Nerve. It plays a great role in regulating mood, stress response, and digestion. When it is activated, it promotes relaxation and emotional well-being by sending calming signals to the brain. Conversely, if there is a fluctuation in vagus nerve function, it contributes to depression and anxiety.

The microbiome-gut-brain axis

The trillions of bacteria residing in your gut are collectively known as ‘the microbiome’. They play a key role in mental health. Research suggests that certain gut bacteria strains can influence stress response, influence mood, and cognitive function. So a healthy gut microbiome means better mental health while an imbalance in the microbiome results in the risk of mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.

Can Probiotics Help with Depression and Anxiety?

After reading so many benefits of probiotics, you might be wondering: Can probiotics help with depression and anxiety? 

Yes, Probiotics are so helpful for managing depression and anxiety, especially in their early stages. Research shows that compared to a placebo group, individuals with major depressive disorder experience reduced symptoms of depression as they take a 15-strain probiotic supplement. Here’s how probiotics may help with depression and anxiety:

  • Probiotics balance the gut microbiome and as gut bacteria have a great effect on our mental health, they help in improving mood, reducing stress, lowering anxiety and depression.
  • Inflammation in our gut is due to various health problems, including mental health. Probiotics help in reducing inflammation by regulating the immune system, which could positively affect mood and anxiety levels.
  • Probiotics may increase neurotransmitter production, serotonin and GABA, which regulates mood, emotions and sleep. It helps in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Probiotics positively influence the gut brain axis by sending calming signals to the brain, improving mood and reducing stress. 

What are the Top 10 Probiotics for Depression and Anxiety?

Our gut health has a great effect on our mental well-being and Probiotics plays a great role in improving our gut health. Recently, the term related to probiotics known as ‘psychobiotic’ has caught the attention of the experts . 

Psychobiotics refers to those probiotics that address and treat mental health concerns. A Study suggests that specific strains of probiotics result in reduced depressive symptoms and anxiety due to the development of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and GABA.

There are many probiotics that can be helpful for treating depression and anxiety. Let’s read about 10 best probiotics for depression and anxiety:

1.Bifidobacterium longum 1714

Bifidobacterium longum acts as an antidepressant and it is the best probiotic for mental health. It helps with anxiety and depression by reducing cortisol. The results of a small study conducted in 2017 showed that Bifidobacterium longum may reduce symptoms of depression in people with bowel syndrome and improve the quality of life. 

  • B. Longum produces serotonin that regulates mood.
  • It helps in reducing inflammation which can be the cause of depression and anxiety.
  • It helps to improve gut health which may have a positive effect on mental health.

You can find B longum in various delicious foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and even some cheeses. You can take B longum in the form of supplements also. It comes in various forms like capsules, powders, and even chewable tablets, making them easy to incorporate into your daily routine.

2.Lactobacillus acidophilus Rosell-52

Lactobacillus has a great influence on mental health, particularly depression and anxiety.

  • Lactobacillus may influence brain chemistry and neurotransmitter signaling, potentially impacting mood and emotional well-being. 
  • Research showed that lactobacillus maintains the levels of an immune mediator called interferon-gamma. It helps reduce depression and anxiety and regulates the body’s response to stress. 

It can be found in fermented dairy foods such as yogurt, kefir, sour cream, and some cheeses. It can also be found in vegetables such as sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, olives, and pickles helping the body in managing stress. You can also take it in the form of supplements. 

3. Lactobacillus casei Shirota

Lactobacillus casei Shirota is a specific probiotic strain that may be helpful for potentially alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression.

  • Lactobacillus casei Shirota balances the gut microbiota and balance in these microbes results in positive mental health and decreased depression and anxiety.
  • They enhance immune system function and reduce inflammation which could also positively affect mood and depression and anxiety levels.
  • Research studies visibly indicated that individuals who were given LcS fermented milk for 8 weeks were shown to relieve stress-associated symptoms. 

Lactobacillus can be found in the form of fermented milk, yogurt, kimchi, and miso. You can also take it in the form of supplements like capsules, chewable tablets, and powder form.

4. Bacillus coagulans

Bacillus coagulans is also the best probiotic for brain health and gut health. It is known for surviving in harsh conditions of the gut, making it effective for the digestive system. Let’s look at how it is good for mental health.

  • They promote a healthy gut microbiome by balancing it, which helps in regulating neurotransmitter production leading to reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression and improved mood.
  • They influence the gut-brain axis positively which has a great impact on our mental health.
  • By enhancing digestion and supporting the immune system they play a key role in maintaining mental well being.

Research showed that Bacillus coagulans had antidepressant- like effects when they were given to rats for examination for about 6 weeks.

These bacterias aren’t naturally found in our bodies but they can be introduced through foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, and natto. They can also be consumed in the form of supplements.

5.Saccharomyces boulardii

Saccharomyces boulardii is the probiotic yeast commonly known as ‘baker’s yeast’ or ‘brewer’s yeast’. It helps in protecting the intestinal lining from the digestive system. These positive effects on gut health indirectly impact mental health.

  • Saccharomyces have been shown to generate antidepressant effects by reducing inflammation and impacting the gut-brain axis positively. 
  • Saccharomyces enhance the production of serotonin, promoting feelings of happiness and well-being.
  • The study has shown that saccharomyces can alleviate anxiety and depression symptoms by reducing stress-related inflammation and regulating neurotransmitters.

The peel of the lychee fruit is where S. boulardii was first discovered. While you can’t simply eat the peel, it can be consume in the form of lychee wine, which may contain live S. boulardii. Some kefir drinks also contain S. boulardii.

S.boulardii is also available in a variety of supplement forms, including capsules, tablets, powder, and sachets. 

6.Bifidobacterium bifidum

Bifidobacterium lives in our intestines and stomachs. They help in digestion and starve off harmful bacteria. Bifidobacterium is also the best probiotic supplement for mental health and it also helps in depression and anxiety. 

  • Research has shown that Bifidobacterium has antidepressant effects and is helpful for the prevention and treatment of depression.
  • Bifidobacteria can help restore a healthy balance of gut bacteria, which may positively impact mood and mental health.
  • Chronic inflammation is linked to both depression and anxiety. Bifidobacteria may exert anti-inflammatory effects, contributing to improved mood.

These are the richest dietary sources of B. bifidum:

Yogurt, Kefir, Kimchi, Tempeh, Miso, Some vinegar, sourdough bread, sauerkraut.

Its supplement sources are capsules and powder.

7.Lactobacillus rhamnosus

Lactobacillus rhamnosus (L. rhamnosus) is another probiotic strain that has gained attention for its potential benefits in managing depression and anxiety.A Research conducted on mice has also shown positive correlations between L. rhamnosus supplementation and reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety. 

  • L. rhamnosus may regulate the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and GABA, which play crucial roles in mood regulation.
  • Chronic inflammation is linked to both depression and anxiety. L. rhamnosus may exert anti-inflammatory effects, contributing to improved mood.
  •  L. rhamnosus can help restore a healthy balance of gut bacteria, potentially impacting mood and mental health.

Food sources of Lactobacillus rhamnosus are yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, miso, and kombucha.

Lactobacillus rhamnosus is also available as a dietary supplement. Supplements can be a good option for people who do not eat a lot of fermented foods, or who have a condition that makes it difficult for them to absorb probiotics from food. 

8.Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 (EcN)

Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 (EcN) is a specific strain of probiotic bacteria that have some potential benefits for reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. It is one of the best mood probiotics.

  • EcN may interact with the gut microbiome, which is known to play a role in mental health. 
  • EcN may also produce neurotransmitters, such as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which have calming effects on the nervous system.
  • A 2014 study found that EcN supplementation significantly reduced anxiety symptoms in people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). 

E. coli Nissle is not currently available in any food sources. However, it is available as a dietary supplement in capsule, tablet, and sachet form. 

9.Lactobacillus helveticus

Lactobacillus helveticus is also a probiotic and can help to improve anxiety and depression. 

  • Studies suggest that the combination of L. helveticus, and Bifidobacterium longum, might lessen symptoms of anxiety and depression. 
  • Some research indicates that L. helveticus can influence mood positively. A study with heat-killed L. helveticus showed improvements in fatigue, vigor, and relaxation in individuals with mild fatigue.
  • The gut microbiome is increasingly recognized for its connection to brain function. L. helveticus strains like WHH1889 have shown the potential to modulate the gut-brain axis in animal models, affecting serotonin levels and possibly contributing to antidepressant-like effects.

It is found in fermented dairy products such as yogurt, cheese, kefir, and buttermilk. Other fermented foods in which it is found are kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, pickles and olives. 

L. helveticus is available as a dietary supplement in various forms, including capsules, tablets, and powders. It’s often combined with other probiotic strains for broader gut health benefits.

10.Akkermansia muciniphila

Akkermansia muciniphila is a promising gut bacterium for depression and anxiety. It has gained attention significantly for its potential role in managing depression and anxiety.

  • Potential mechanisms by which A. muciniphila might influence mood, such as Modulating neurotransmitter levels (e.g., serotonin, dopamine), Reducing inflammation and Improving gut-brain communication.
  • Research shows that there were improvements in depressive-like symptoms in mice administered A. muciniphila.
  • The study has observed that there were lower levels of A. muciniphila in individuals with depression and anxiety compared to healthy individuals.

There are several foods that can help in promoting the growth of A.muciniphila such as prebiotics that include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Polyphenols and good sources of polyphenols include berries, red wine, dark chocolate, and green tea.

A.muciniphila supplements are also available in the form of live or pasteurized A.muciniphila.

We read above the 10 best probiotics for depression and anxiety. You can choose what is best for you by consulting a healthcare professional. Probiotics are also not an only option for treating depression and anxiety, you can find other treatment options too if you are going through mental health issues.

How to Choose the Right Probiotic?

It could be difficult and overwhelming to choose the write probiotic with so many options available. Here’s a breakdown of key factor consider when choosing the right probiotic:

1.Identify your reason for taking a probiotic

Identify your reason for taking a probiotic. Are you targeting digestive issues, immune support, skin health, or something else? Different strains benefit different areas so it’s better to know the exact reason behind taking prebiotics.

2.Probiotic types

Look for products listing both, not just “general probiotics.” Each genus (e.g., Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium) encompasses various strains with unique effects. You should choose products specifying the exact strain name, not just the genus/species. This is because the different strains within the same species can have different benefits.

3.Dose and CFUs (Colony Forming Units)

You should look for probiotics with at least 1 billion CFUs per dose and choose brands with CFU guarantees at the time of expiry, not just manufacturing. You should also consider products requiring refrigeration to ensure live bacteria survival. 

4. Look For Reputable Brands

You should look and choose reputable brands that have good reputations and third-party certifications for quality and safety. Also, check if the product contains any ingredients you’re allergic to, such as dairy or soy. You should also pay attention to expiry dates and buy fresh products to ensure safety.

5. Consult a Healthcare Professional

You should consult a healthcare professional, telling them about their needs and medical history. For pre-existing health conditions, your doctor can appropriate probiotics according to your health. 

Potential Side Effects and Precautions

There are many precautions to take as there is a risk of potential side effects of probiotics. 

  • Probiotics can cause bloating, gas or mild changes in stool consistency.
  • In rare cases, people can have allergic reactions to probiotics. Symptoms can include hives, rash, itching, and swelling.
  • Some people experience increased thirst when they start taking probiotics.

Precautions

Individuals like pregnant or breastfeeding women, and people with compromised immune systems and those that are on certain medications should use probiotics with caution or avoid them. People with risky health conditions should consult a doctor before taking probiotics.

By considering these factors and consulting a healthcare professional, you can make an informed choice about probiotic supplementation.

Incorporating Probiotics into Your Lifestyle

Probiotics play a crucial role in digestion, immunity, and overall health. There are several ways to incorporate them into your daily routine. You can take them in the form of a diet and as supplements.

Dietary Sources

Fermented Foods: You can take them in the form of yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, miso, tempeh, and natto. 

Pickles: You can take it in the form of fermented pickles.

Sourdough Bread: You can make your own sourdough bread as it also contains probiotics.

Aged Cheeses: Cheddar, Gouda, Swiss, and Parmesan boast varying levels of probiotics depending on their aging period.

Probiotic-Rich Recipes

There are many probiotic-rich recipes that you can add to your life and reap its benefits in the form of a healthy gut and mental well-being.

Breakfast

Kefir Overnight Oats

Combine 1/2 cup plain kefir with 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1/4 cup berries, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, and a sprinkle of honey. Refrigerate overnight for a grab-and-go breakfast packed with probiotics and fiber. It is also delicious to eat. 

Yogurt Parfait with Sauerkraut

To make this recipe layer plain yogurt, granola, and sauerkraut for a sweet and tangy flavor outbreak. The sauerkraut adds a probiotic punch while the granola provides prebiotics, both are helpful for our gut bacteria. 

Lunch

Kimchi Tuna Salad

To make this recipe, mix canned tuna with chopped kimchi, mayonnaise, diced celery, and a drizzle of sesame seeds. Spread on whole-wheat bread for a gut-friendly twist on a classic lunch.

Miso Power Bowl

Combine quinoa, roasted vegetables, crumbled tofu, and miso dressing for a complete and nourishing meal. Miso paste is a fermented soybean paste rich in probiotics.

Dinner

Spicy Tempeh Tacos

Marinate tempeh in your favorite taco spices. Then pan-fry, and serve on tortillas with avocado, salsa, and a dab of plain yogurt. Tempeh is a fermented soy product brimming with probiotics.

Sauerkraut Sausage Stir-fry

Sauté sausage, cabbage, carrots, and bell peppers together. Stir in sauerkraut and cooked brown rice for a quick and flavorful dish with a probiotic boost.

Snacks

Yogurt Dip with Veggies

Love yogurt? Then mix plain yogurt with chopped herbs, garlic, and lemon juice for a light and refreshing dip. Team it with cucumber slices, carrot sticks, or bell pepper strips for a gut-healthy and delicious snack.

Pickled Beet Hummus

Blend cooked beets, chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, and lemon juice for a vibrant and probiotic-rich hummus. Enjoy it with whole-wheat pita bread or veggie sticks.

Lifestyle Practices For Maintaining A Healthy Gut

There are many lifestyle practices that you can incorporate into daily life for maintaining a healthy gut.

Reduce Stress: Stress disrupts gut flora so you can incorporate relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation or spending time in nature.

Prioritize Sleep: Sleep deprivation impacts gut health, so aim for 7-8 hours of quality of sleep each night.

Regular Exercise: Physical activity helps in promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. Try to do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most of the week.

Drink plenty of Water:

Staying hydrated helps in proper digestion and nutrient absorption, making a healthy gut environment. Make sure to drink plenty of water to keep your gut healthy.

Limit Antibiotic Use:

Antibiotics wipe out both good and bad bacteria from our gut. Take antibiotics when absolutely necessary and try to avoid them.

Be consistent when it comes to reaping the benefits of probiotics. By incorporating these dietary and lifestyle practices into your routine, you can develop a healthy gut microbiome and support your overall health and well-being.

Conclusion

This article, ‘10 best probiotics for depression and anxiety’ aims to shed light on probiotics that can be helpful for individuals suffering from depression and anxiety. 

Mental health is a complex issue and depression and anxiety are on the top of the list when it comes to it. There are so many treatment options for depression and anxiety and probiotics is one of them. You can choose from the 10 best probiotics for depression and anxiety that are included in this article.

Make sure to consult a doctor and professional before taking prebiotics supplements and also give time to prebiotics for showing the results in terms of gut health and mental health.

FAQs

Can probiotics make you happier?

Yes, probiotics have been shown to have a positive impact on mood and mental well-being. Studies have found that consuming probiotics can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, improving overall mood and cognitive function. This is because probiotics produce neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, that have mood-boosting effects making you happier.

What probiotics are good for mood and brain health?

Probiotics such as Lactobacillus helveticus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium bifidum, and Lactobacillus plantarum have been found to have beneficial effects on mood and brain health. 

Is it better to take probiotics in the morning or at night?

There is no definite answer to whether it is better to take probiotics in the morning or at night, as the optimal time may vary depending on the individual and the specific probiotic strain. 

It also depends on in which form you are taking probiotics such as food, supplement, or topical form. It is better to follow the instructions on the label when taking probiotics supplements.

Are probiotics effective for mental health?

Yes, probiotics are beneficial for our mental health as they balance the gut bacteria. These gut bacteria help in maintaining a healthy gut and are effective for mental health. As probiotics trigger the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, they are involved in regulating mood, and cognitive function, reducing anxiety and depression, and resulting in improved mental health overall.

How long would probiotics take to help with stress and anxiety?

Its effects vary depending on the individual and what type of probiotics they are consuming. Sometimes it has been observed to have positive effects within a few weeks of daily probiotic consumption and other times it takes several months to help with anxiety and depression.

How psychobiotics can help with anxiety?

Psychobiotics, the type of probiotics, when consumed can help with anxiety. They communicate and interact with the gut-brain axis, sending calming signals and producing happy hormones and neurotransmitters which alleviates the symptoms of anxiety.