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Do common antibiotic treatments influence emotional processing?

People who have taken antibiotics in the past three months pay more attention to negative facial expressions, according to research by postdoc Katerina Johnson and assistant professor Laura Steenbergen. This may explain how antibiotics increase the risk of developing depression.

Katerina Johnson & Laura Steenbergen
06 September 2022
Physiology & Behavior - Do common antibiotic treatments influence emotional processing?

The use of antibiotics negatively affects the microbial community in the gut, previous research has shown. That can then have knock-on effects on the rest of our health.

Increased risk of depression

Previous studies have found that even one course of antibiotics can increase the risk of depression and anxiety. Steenbergen adds: 'As well as the disruption to the microbiome caused by antibiotics, we also know that inflammation from an infection can itself affect the brain. However, studies have shown that people who have an infection treated with antifungal or antiviral drugs do not have such an increased risk of depression. This suggests that antibiotics may be a causal factor in the relationship with negative mood. In addition, we also know from animal studies that antibiotics can cause symptoms of depression.'

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