Purpose of review
According to the WHO reports, around 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression. Despite its high prevalence, the complex interaction of multiple mechanisms underlying depression still needs to be elucidated.
Over the course of the last few years, several neurobiological alterations have been linked to the development and maintenance of depression. One basic process that seems to link many of these findings is inflammation. Chronic inflammation has been associated with both biological factors such as excessive neurotransmitter concentrations as well as psychological processes such as adult stress reactivity and a history of childhood trauma. As a balanced microbial community, modulated by diet, is a key regulator of the host physiology, it seems likely that gut microbiota plays a role in depression.
The review summarizes the existent literature on this emerging research field and provides a comprehensive overview of the multifaceted links between the microbiota, diet, and depression. Several pathways linking early life trauma, pharmacological treatment effects, and nutrition to the microbiome in depression are described aiming to foster the psychotherapeutic treatment of depressed patients by interventions targeting the microbiota.