What all psychotherapists should know about gut health
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Diagnosable mental health problems are said to affect one in four people in any given year, they are a leading source of disability globally, and new strategies for prevention and treatment are vital (Lucas, 2018). Significant progress has been made over the past decade in recognizing the importance of gut microbiota to brain function. Patients with various psychiatric disorders including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and autism spectrum disorder have been shown to have significant differences in the composition of their gut microbiome (Foster & Neufeld, 2013). Key findings show that stress influences the composition of the gut microbiota and that bidirectional communication between microbiota and the CNS influences stress reactivity. Going forward, there is a significant opportunity to consider how the gut–brain axis and how dysbiosis of the microbiome influences mental illness. Recent literature demonstrates that modulation of diet has potential to have beneficial and detrimental impact on microbiota composition and how it interacts with its host (Foster & Neufeld, 2013). Dietary treatments used as either adjunct or sole therapy for mood disorders is not beyond the realm of possibility. Thus, the following paper proposes a lesson plan for psychotherapists to become more aware of the role of nutrition and lifestyle factors in psychological wellbeing and how current literature supports a potential upcoming adjunct therapy. Personalized nutrition is an emerging data driven approach, potentially enabling diets tailored to the individual in various clinical contexts.