Antibiotics and Depression

Did you know that there is a proven link between antibiotic use and mental health symptoms? Research has shown that just ONE course of antibiotics raises the risk of depression. I had a recent experience that reminded me of just how true this is.

This weekend I found myself at urgent care for a severe cat bite. The medical protocol in this situation is a 10-day course of antibiotics. Being a natural health practitioner, my gut (and years of research) told me not to take antibiotics.

But in this medical setting, the doctor explained that if I didn’t start immediately on antibiotics, my hand would most likely get infected and could lead to “surgical intervention.” That was scary and I succumbed to the fear. In my mind, I had always thought that a cat bite was something that MUST be treated with antibiotics, so I went along with the recommendations.

I picked up the antibiotics and began to take them right away as prescribed. On the second day of taking them, my stomach was nauseous and I began to notice that my mood had plummeted dramatically. I felt the old tug of depression creeping up on me.

I remembered back to the time when I was 19 and was prescribed antibiotics for acne. I was on them for several months. Thinking back, it was probably no coincidence that it was around that time that I had my first bout of major depression.

On the second day of taking antibiotics for the cat bite, I instinctively knew they were doing more harm than good.  I decided to follow my intuition and stop taking them.

So I turned to my known natural solutions to boost my body’s immune system and gut health. My friends were doubtful and questioned that this could work. To be honest, I was a little worried too.

Here’s what I did:

  • I took a refrigerated probiotic to start to re-populate my digestive system with beneficial bacteria
  • I picked up some locally-brewed kombucha and drank it several times a day to restore gut health.
  • I began taking 6,000mg of vitamin C in capsules, in divided doses throughout the day.

The day after I began the mega doses of vitamin C, my hand (which had begun to swell and get red) quickly started to heal. The swelling receded and was almost back to a normal size. After two days of the vitamin C, I saw major improvements in the wounds as they started to scab over and heal. The hand returned to normal size and I felt incredibly relieved.

It is now my opinion that antibiotics are a major contributor to the current mental health crisis. I find it to be one of several primary root causes of depression and anxiety. If this is true, a simple solution is to support gut health and the immune system for improved mental health. Of course, there are other factors such as genetics, toxicity, copper overload, methylation issues, parasites, and a host of other probably root causes as well. But because antibiotics are so prevalent, this is a great place to start for the general population that would no doubt help relieve suffering of thousands of people who are dealing with depression and anxiety.

In another real-life example, I had a client recently who was doing very well on her holistic mental health protocol. When she got her wisdom teeth removed,  the dentist gave her a dose of antibiotics. Within days, her original depression and lethargy returned. I recommended she start on a dose of probiotics and as a result, her symptoms quickly lifted. (I could see this clearly for her, but yet I felt my cat bite was somehow different.)

Below is a sampling of some of the research that correlates the use of antibiotics with an increase in mood disorders:

Journal of Clinical Psychiatry:
RESULTS: Treatment with a single antibiotic course was associated with higher risk for depression with all antibiotic groups.

WebMD: Drugs That Cause Depression
“Medications that cause mania or depression appear to alter brain chemicals in some way. And even though the drugs may be necessary to treat the condition, the side effect is hardly acceptable. As an example, isotretinoin (Absorica, Amnesteem, Claravis, Myorisan, Zenatane), which is prescribed for the treatment of acne, has been found to also sometimes cause depression. So have oral contraceptives, high blood pressure drugs, and even statins that treat high cholesterol.”

“Antibiotics can have a severe impact on good microbes in the gut — and that can cause a lifetime of physical and psychological problems.”

This personal experience was a reminder to me of what I already knew: The body can heal itself given the right tools and nutrients.

Judy Meyer, HHP, NHC is a holistic mental health coach and energy healer practicing in San Diego, CA. She is the founder of, a free resource for alternative solutions for mental wellness.

Please note: This blog does not attempt to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or illness. The author is not a medical doctor.

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