Psychobiotic supplements for anxiety and depression are becoming increasingly popular as people become more interested in gut health’s role in mental health. Probiotics are present in many fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut, but you can also find them in supplement form. Psychobiotics are a type of probiotic that has been shown to affect mental health.
But do they work? What are they made of? And what is the evidence that they help with anxiety and depression? This article will explore psychobiotic supplements and their potential benefits for mental health.
What are Psychobiotics?
Psychobiotics are live bacteria that, when ingested, positively affect mood and mental health. They are found in fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, and supplements.
How Does Psychobiotics Work?
The theory behind psychobiotics is that they can help to rebalance the microbiome, which is the collection of microorganisms that live in the gut. The microbiome has been linked to mental health in several ways. For example, studies have shown that people with depression have a different composition of gut microbiota than people without depression. 
Psychobiotics work by changing the composition of the gut microbiota, which can influence mood and mental health. Some studies have shown that probiotics can help to reduce anxiety and depression. However, it is also worth noting that psychobiotics are not a replacement for traditional treatments for mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.
What Psychobiotics Are Made Of?
Psychobiotics are made of live bacteria similar to the bacteria found in the gut. When consumed, they work in tandem with good gut flora to improve mental wellness.
Probiotic Strains for Anxiety and Depression
The three strains of probiotic bacteria that have the most evidence supporting their use for anxiety and depression are Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, and Bifidobacterium bifidum. Look for them in supplements, as they have the most research supporting their use for anxiety and depression. 
Psychobiotics for Anxiety
Some evidence suggests that probiotics can help with anxiety and depression. One study found that participants who took a probiotic supplement for eight weeks had reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol and reported feeling less anxious than those who did not take the supplement. 
Best Probiotic Supplements for Anxiety and Depression
Here’s a list of the best probiotic supplements for anxiety and depression:
Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics
Dr. Ohhira’s supplements contain prebiotics and postbiotic metabolites and 12 different probiotic strains that are effective against anxiety and depression. Since they have the extra strength of prebiotics, postbiotics, and TH-10, they need fewer CFUs to build a healthy microbiome.
- 900 million CFU
- 60 supplements per container
Probiotic & Prebiotic Supplement by Earth’s Pearl Probiotics
Although Earth’s Pearl Probiotic Supplement was not intended to improve mood or decrease anxiety and depression, it includes strains and prebiotics useful in promoting emotional wellness. It also contains prebiotics. Also, the pearls feature an innovative delivery system, so they’re sent to the digestive tract when they’re most effective.
- 4 billion CFU
- 60 supplements per container
PRO-15 Advanced Strength Probiotic and Kiwi Extract by Hyperbiotics
These probiotics are designed to promote overall well-being, but they also contain strains with mood-boosting properties. It also includes a proprietary delivery technology that provides 15 times more survival than capsule delivery.
This probiotic mix is enhanced with kiwifruit, which contains prebiotics, fiber, and an enzyme found only in kiwifruit, all of which boost gut flora health and facilitate the colonization of the intestine with probiotics.
- 15 billion CFU
- 60 supplements per container
Psychobiotics for Depression
A study found that participants who took a probiotic supplement for six weeks had reduced levels of depression and anxiety and increased levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This protein helps to support the growth and development of new nerve cells. 
In another study, patients suffering from serious depression were given a probiotic supplement containing three types of bacteria for eight weeks. The results were lower scores on the Beck Depression Inventory, a common measurement of depressive symptoms. 
So, while the evidence is still preliminary, it seems that probiotics may benefit mental health. Psychobiotics could be an effective way to reduce the symptoms of depression when used with traditional treatments like therapy and medication.
Best Psychobiotics for Depression
Here are some of the best psychobiotics for depression:
Probiotic Supplement by Jarrow Formulas
This supplement contains the probiotic strain Bifidobacterium longum, which is effective against depression.  It also includes prebiotics and is designed to support a healthy gut-brain connection.
- 25 billion CFU
- 30 to 120 capsules per container
Align Probiotic Extra Strength
Align is a physician-recommended brand that contains the probiotic strain Bifidobacterium longuma, effective for its function in digestive health, including IBS symptoms, and is also useful in reducing depression.
It’s ideal if you’re constantly on the go or don’t want to bother keeping your probiotic supplement cold, as it doesn’t need to be kept in the fridge.
- 5 billion CFU
- 42 capsules per container
Other Probiotics to Try
Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium bacteria are the most helpful probiotics for mental health. You can get them by adding probiotic food to your diet, such as the following:
Are there Side Effects of Taking Psychobiotic Supplements for Anxiety and Depression?
There are no known side effects of taking psychobiotics. However, as with any supplement, it’s always best to speak to a doctor before starting a new supplement, particularly if you have any underlying medical conditions or are taking medication.
Bottomline: Psychobiotic Supplements For Anxiety And Depression
While probiotics may aid in depression treatment, they are not a replacement for treatment, medicine, or other methods. Although probiotics may help alleviate some of your symptoms, it is also essential that you adhere to any other therapies your doctor has prescribed.
A sudden withdrawal from prescribed drugs may cause significant mental and physical side effects. If discontinuing your medicine altogether is something you’d like to accomplish, discuss it with your doctor to figure out a schedule that will work for you.
Disclaimer: This article is only a guide. It does not substitute the advice given by your healthcare professional. Before making any health-related decision, consult your healthcare professional.
Editorial References And Fact-Checking
- Therese Limbana, Farah Khan, and Noha Eskander. Gut Microbiome and Depression: How Microbes Affect the Way We Think. Cureus, 2020 Aug; 12(8): e9966. PMCID: PMC7510518PMID: 32983670.
- Caroline J. K. Wallac and Roumen Milev. The effects of probiotics on depressive symptoms in humans: a systematic review. Ann Gen Psychiatry, 2017. doi: 10.1186/s12991-017-0138-2. PMCID: PMC5319175, PMID: 28239408.
- Wallace, C.J.K., Milev, R. The effects of probiotics on depressive symptoms in humans: a systematic review. Ann Gen Psychiatry 16, 14 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12991-017-0138-2.
- Nazanin Heidarzadeh-Rad, Hülya Gökmen-Özel, Asma Kazemi, Negin Almasi, Kurosh Djafarian. Effects of a Psychobiotic Supplement on Serum Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor Levels in Depressive Patients: A Post Hoc Analysis of a Randomized Clinical Trial. J Neurogastroenterol Moti, 2020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7547201/
- Nazanin Heidarzadeh-Rad, Hülya Gökmen-Özel, Asma Kazemi, Negin Almasi, Kurosh Djafarian. Effects of a Psychobiotic Supplement on Serum Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor Levels in Depressive Patients: A Post Hoc Analysis of a Randomized Clinical Trial. J Neurogastroenterol Motil, 2020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7547201.
- Maria Ines Pinto-Sanchez, Geoffrey B Hall, Kathy Ghajar, et al. Probiotic Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 Reduces Depression Scores and Alters Brain Activity: A Pilot Study in Patients With Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Aug 2017. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2017.05.003.