Description: Given that this time of year (heading into end of term exams) is particularly stressful and anxiety provoking for college and university students I thought I would talk about three articles (this one and the two post above it) that are about stress but which look at stress from a novel, hopefully distracting, perspective which could provide a brief reprieve from the exam preparation grind. The first article, linked below, looks at the relationship between the number and range of gut microbes and long term stress, anxiety and depression. Before reading the article think for a moment about how your stomach (gut) responds to stress. Are there feelings or symptoms that you experience as gut related when you are stressed?
Source: Gut feelings: How the microbiome may affect mental illness and interact with treatment, Science Daily.
Date: December 7, 2016
Photo Credit: pathdoic/Fotolia
Links: Article Link — https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/12/161207093019.htm
The information in the article linked above reflects discussions that occurred at a recent meeting organized by the American College of Neuropharmacology talking about cutting edge research in the relationship between the gut microbiome and stress. Research discussed in the article seems to suggest that experiencing chronic stress reduces the diversity of microorganisms that are living in our gastrointestinal system. While this of course could simply be a correlation, meaning that there is not a causal connection between stress and our gastrointestinal system some of the research discussed suggests otherwise. Specifically when microorganisms were transferred from the guts of stressed rats to those of unstressed rats the unstressed rats started to show behavioural changes that reflect the experience stress within five days. In addition, the onset of treatment of depression using SSRIs seems to be correlated with an increase in diversity of gut microorganisms. Further, the researchers suggested that understanding the effects of various treatments for depression on gut microorganisms might help us to better understand some of the side effects associated with certain depression treatment drugs such as weight gain. One question that arises from this discussion is whether adjusting the nature and diversity of microorganisms in the gut might be, at least, a partial treatment for symptoms of depression and related stress. If this question occurred to you as well and go on and read the post above this one for a possible answer to this question.
Questions for Discussion:
- What relationship appears to exist between the level and diversity of gut for microorganisms and the experience of stress and depression?
- What evidence was offered in support of there being a possible causal connection between gut microorganisms and symptoms of stress and how is that evidence different than simply noting a relationship between these two things?
- What role might this understanding of the relationship between gut might microorganisms and stress and depression play in the treatment of individuals who are experiencing difficulties with the level of stress in their life or with symptoms of depression?
References (Read Further):
Emily Jutkiewicz. Gut Microbial Community and Behavioral Changes in a Chronic Mild Stress Model of Depression in Rats. Neuropsychopharmacology, 2016 DOI: 10.1038/npp.2016.239
Collins, S. M., Surette, M., & Bercik, P. (2012). The interplay between the intestinal microbiota and the brain. Nature Reviews Microbiology, 10(11), 735-742. http://www.nature.com/nrmicro/journal/v10/n11/full/nrmicro2876.html
Park, A. J., Collins, J., Blennerhassett, P. A., Ghia, J. E., Verdu, E. F., Bercik, P., & Collins, S. M. (2013). Altered colonic function and microbiota profile in a mouse model of chronic depression. Neurogastroenterology & Motility, 25(9), 733-e575. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/nmo.12153/full
Mayer, E. A., Knight, R., Mazmanian, S. K., Cryan, J. F., & Tillisch, K. (2014). Gut microbes and the brain: paradigm shift in neuroscience. The Journal of Neuroscience, 34(46), 15490-15496. http://www.jneurosci.org/content/34/46/15490.long