Can the Bacteria in Your Gut Cause Anxiety?

Recent research from neurobiologists at Oxford University has uncovered evidence of a potential link between the bacteria in our gut and the quality of our mental health. Though the body of research on the subject has grown in recent years, most of these studies have relied on animal rather than human subjects. Using 45 human subjects, the Oxford study yields new insights between anxiety and bacteria of the gut. Participants took either a prebiotic or a placebo every day for three weeks. At the end of the three weeks, researchers completed several computer tests assessing how the subjects processed emotional information, like positive and negatively charged words.

New Findings

Researchers found that “prebiotics,” supplements designed to boost healthy bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, may have an anti-anxiety effect. This significant new information suggests that prebiotics may alter how people process emotional information. One test from the study revealed that subjects who had taken the prebiotic paid less attention to negative information and more attention to positive information. When compared to the placebo group, the prebiotic group experienced less anxiety towards negative stimuli. A similar effect has been observed among individuals taking antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications. Another interesting detail emerging from the study is that prebiotic subjects had lower levels of “cortisol,” a stress hormone linked to anxiety and depression.

Why Is This Research Important?

According to the study’s lead author, Dr. Philip Burnet, “prebiotics are ‘food’ for good bacteria already present in the gut. Taking prebiotics, therefore, increases the numbers of all species of good bacteria in the gut, which will theoretically have greater beneficial effects than [introducing] a single species.” Similar findings have been found in other studies. Research conducted by UCLA found that women who got their prebiotics through yogurt consumption exhibited signs of altered brain function when resting or while performing an emotion-recognition task. Dr. Kristen Tillisch, author of the UCLA study, stated, “Our study shows that the gut/brain connection is a two-way street.”

So what does the future hold? Will modern treatments build upon the newly found links between gut bacteria and anxiety? With the body and quality of research continuing to grow, only time will tell.

For more information about bacteria and anxiety, contact our team of Chico mental health professionals at Therapeutic Solutions. We’re here to help you live life in balance.


Can Art Therapy Help Your Mental Health?

Have you ever wondered if art therapy could be a helpful tool for treating mental illness? A new study conducted by The Health Technology Assessment (HTA) reveals that art therapy for mental illness does have a positive impact on symptoms. In particular, art therapy can help patients strengthen their understanding of achievement, empowerment and perspective. But what exactly is art therapy?

Art Therapy Explained

Art therapy can involve activities such as painting, sculpting, and graphic design as a form of self-expression. Art therapy is often an option for people who have problems verbally articulating their emotion or distress. Through the artistic process, patients learn to exhibit their repressed desires and feelings as they see fit. However, it is important that these artistic activities take place alongside other modes of communication within a therapeutic relationship or setting. Art therapy has proven useful for difficulties related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as various cognitive and neurological disorders.

Additional Benefits of Art Therapy

Not only is art therapy becoming a more acceptable way to help people experience mental health benefits, it can also help patients:

  • Manage behavior
  • Reduce stress
  • Develop interpersonal skills
  • Increase self-esteem & self-awareness

Overall, art therapy is an acceptable alternative treatment for mental health issues. However, it is important to note that a good relationship between the patient and art therapist is essential for the treatment to be effective.

Need more information about art therapy for mental illness? Contact our team of Chico mental health professionals at Therapeutic Solutions. We’re here to help you!


How Much Do You Know About Depression?

Depression can take many forms, which is why it is important to be able to identify the signs of this common condition. Did you know that depression is experienced as anxiety about 65% of the time? This is just one reason why it is important to ensure an accurate diagnosis of the condition. Below, we list ways to help you better understand the symptoms of depression.

Symptoms of Depression

  • Irritability: Angry at the world? Vexed with life? Loved ones seem like a nuisance? These can all be symptoms of depression. Though the causes may be something internal, this anger can potentially lead to conflict or withdrawing from loved ones.
  • Selfishness: Feeling sad? Thinking about your own pain? Depression can make it hard to give or express emotions to other individuals.
  • Chronic Pain: Continuous physical discomfort sometimes results in depression. However, when you are depressed and in pain, it can be difficult to know which came first.
  • Drug Abuse: Alcohol, marijuana, and other recreational drugs can contribute to depression. It is important to realize that all medications, including anti-depressants, have side effects. Avoid self-medicating at all costs.

How to Deal with or Treat Depression

Although we don’t choose to be depressed, we do have a choice about how to deal with it. From medication to art therapy, and even exercise, it is vital to find the treatment that best suits you. For many, exercise is not only the easiest treatment for depression, it is also the least expensive. Simply walking 30 minutes a day can help alleviate symptoms of depression. As diagnostic tools improve and better treatments become available, identifying symptoms of depression is easier today than ever before.

Want more information about treatments for depression? Get in contact with one of our Chico mental health professionals today.