How is depression linked to gut microbiota?

Once it was common to think that we need our gut bacteria to resist pathogens that enter our gastrointestinal act. Today scientists discovered a connection between the gut microbiota and development of brain systems. Gut microorganisms can produce and transmit neuroactive chemicals, including serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid. Researchers also found antidepressant properties in some probiotics.
The link between the gastrointestinal tract and neural system was discovered decades ago, mainly through patients with anxiety and depression who developed eating disorders and autoimmune diseases. Later it appeared that intestinal microorganisms live in contact with the immune system cells causing psychiatric disorders or protecting systems from the intrusion of pathogens. Bacteria influence the brain function through the vagus nerve that is a direct connection between the brain and the stomach. Apparently, gut microbiota releases certain neurotrophins and proteins that directly impact the brain function.
To define the link between the gut bacteria and anxiety, scientists conducted research on animal testers. Rats given probiotics were less likely to develop anxiety when put to stress. As a consequence, bacteria are considered to be the primary link between the unhealthy diet and depression. The first probiotic treatment of depression appeared yet in the early 20th century, and today the market of non-prescription probiotics in the US can compete with some popular prescription antidepressants.

How does miscarriage affect mental health of the couple

Though medically common, miscarriage is a tragedy for a woman and her family. Once the mother was supposed to grieve alone over the loss of the baby, but today it is clear that a failed pregnancy matters to other family members as well. After the incident, the husband may start questioning the fertility of his wife and get irritated because of that. Woman’s own family can become overprotective in their turn and insist on making more tests and getting new treatment when the woman is not yet ready to any comments upon what happened. The behavior of the family can depress the woman even more and drive her to hysteria.
There are more scenarios of how the couple can live after a miscarriage. In fact, many husbands are not so sensitive to the loss of an unborn child as their wives. Men can provide a good support to their spouses during hard times. They do not dramatize things and are capable to see the situation in the bright light. They can always try it one more time, and one day they would eventually have children. Even if men do not completely understand the difficulty of their condition, they do not exaggerate what they know. It helps women to regain their mental balance and start again.
Some women cannot recover from miscarriage for years. In the moment of need, they did not get enough support from their family and stood away from therapists. Guilt or inferiority complex may follow these women until they finally decide to leave their grief behind. Many women require the help of therapists to free themselves from the burden of a past reproductive failure.

How do failed relationships shape our mental health?

Mating and dating normally give a boost to our spirits, lift self-confidence, and increase well-being. When in toxic relationships, people become easily irritated and dissatisfied so that a breakup is the only healthy way out. There is no point continuing relationships that stink, and people generally feel relieved after separating from an oppressive or narcissistic partner. But what if a healthy and all-around positive engagement fails? Do we really mean it saying that everything goes for the good?
Breaking up with a loved and desirable partner, individuals feel even worse than as if they were engaged in toxic relationships. Devastation, frustration, and the feeling of inferiority reach the offended partners right away. In a couple of days, failed lovers may develop anxiety or depression that goes along with eating disorders, sleep problems, substance addiction, and reckless behavior. Obviously, breaking a romantic bond is not the best event to experience. Even if partners never considered each other the love of their life, insulted self-esteem does not make it pleasant to part.
A failed marriage does not leave spouses in peace either. Most people feel like they should better get some counseling sessions in process of divorce that is stressful indeed. Many couples lose weight in divorce and develop alcohol abuse afterward. Unlike other types of failed relationships, divorce impacts the whole family. In the end, parents suffer from high blood pressure and children develop anxiety and phobias. A civilized behavior of partners can save the situation, however, a temporary increase in stress hormones makes people miserable.
In rare cases, a breakup can result in hysteria or suicidal behavior. It depends much on a personality and on one’s inclination to the mental illness. It is rather the case with teenagers who have a distorted picture of romantic relationships and how they come and go.

How do “habits” work? What makes us get used to a certain behavior or routine?

Habits follow us day to day, and it is quite normal to do certain actions repeatedly. Doing routine things automatically, we save the energy for more important tasks and make sure we do essential operations (brushing teeth, locking the door). Breaking down the nature of habits, we will see that every habit consists of three components. They are a cue (or trigger), a routine (or the behavior itself), and a reward – the three component making a “habit loop”. All habits are different in complexity but they certainly have these three components.
We do not develop habits on purpose. In most cases, it is a spontaneous process of fulfilling our needs and bringing satisfaction. First, we have a trigger like hunger. As we are hungry, we go to the cafeteria and buy food that we know is tasty. It is usually fast food, sweets, or snacks that give us an immediate satisfaction. The reward pushes us to repeat the same action all over again unless we find another way to cope with the cue. Imagine that you eat a super-nourishing granny’s dinner. You enjoy it a lot and you are so full that you cannot think about snacks anymore. The old cue is solved in a different way, but the reward is still immense. This is how we change our habits.
The examples above are rather basic, but it is often difficult to determine the actual cue that triggers the behavior. Do we eat because we are hungry? Or perhaps we are bored and need a change or socialization? Isolating the cue is the most important step that would help us change a bad habit into a healthier one.

How can you form and change a habit?

Whether we like them or not, habits make up our everyday routine. All of us have noticed that we can automatically do laundry or wash dishes without thinking why or how we do it. Every day we repeat the same actions in a similar order forming numerous habits with a “habit loop”. It is a three-part process that involves a trigger, a behavior itself, and a reward. We intend to buy our morning coffee on the go because we do not feel enough refreshed – that is the trigger of the behavior. Then we stand in line, make a purchase, and go on sipping fragrant liquid, doing it almost the same way every day. Then we get a boost of vigor as a reward. Coffee makes us feel so great that we make it a compulsory part of our everyday routine.
Making a habit is not that difficult. We often form habits automatically just because some things give us a considerable reward. Changing a habit requires much more energy and a different brain activity. Habit making behavior happens in the basal ganglia. Once we keep doing actions automatically, the prefrontal cortex responsible for decision-making turns into a sort of sleep mode. We also use the prefrontal cortex trying to break the habit. To suppress the trigger, we can change routine settings. Imagine going on business a different way. If there is no coffee shop along, we are unlikely to buy our morning coffee. We can also get a similar reward through the alternative. Let us say, you drink tea every morning at home and do not need extra refreshment on the way out.

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