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What's causing this mental health epidemic?

Updated: Jul 27, 2019

Mental health conditions have significantly grown in the population over the last 20 years, and the underlying causes are slowly becoming better understood.

Recently there has been a growing body of research highlighting the connection between the microbiome and brain health, including conditions such as multiple sclerosis, depression, and schizophrenia. This connection is often referred to as the gut-brain axis, and has shown that individuals who suffer from neurological and mental health conditions tend to have reduced diversity and some different bacteria in their microbiome compared to healthy individuals.

A very interesting paper only recently published in 2019 showed that transferring bacteria from the intestines of patients suffering from schizophrenia into mice, was able to transfer some of the symptoms associated with schizophrenia into the mice. This paper raises important questions, such as whether mental health conditions could stem from a source such as dysbiosis (an imbalance in the intestinal bacteria). It also raises the question if these conditions are somehow transferable to others.

However, it is important to remember that research is only beginning to understand the importance of the microbiome and its connection with the brain and mental health. More research is needed to show the impact of changing the microbiome on the brain and mental health.