How Antibiotics Cause Depression, Anxiety And Mess Your Mood [Research-Based]

antibiotics cause depression and mood changes

Note: This post goes over various scientific evidences that have noted incidences of depression, anxiety and other mental health symptoms with antibiotic use.

The exact mechanism for these side effects is not clear but it is potentially linked to gut health disturbances caused by antibiotics. On the other hand, some antibiotics have been found to have unique antidepressant property as well.

While this post highlights the adverse effects of inappropriate antibiotic use, the information provided here is not intended to create a fear about antibiotic use or influence your choice of using such medicines.

In case of life-threatening or chronic infections, one cannot overlook antibiotic therapy. Please take an informed decision. If you are facing mental health related side effects with antibiotic therapy, consult your doctor about the same.

Antibiotics were designed to tackle serious infections. But today they are being heavily overused to the extent that by the age of 20 one must have completed at least 10 rounds of antibiotics.

Apparently, antibiotics prescription reduced from 1995 to 2000 but since then the levels have steadily risen. [1]

Also, in many parts of the world, people self-medicate with antibiotics.

The history of modern antibiotic use dates back to 1928 with the discovery of penicillin and since then antibiotics have saved over a million lives by treating serious infections.

Early in 1945, Sir Alexander Fleming had warned that both physicians and patients would overuse antibiotics and this inappropriate use has given rise to the era of antibiotic resistance.

Today researchers are advocating a rational use of antimicrobial agents involving a reduced prescription or even delayed prescription. [2]

The role of microorganisms in the development of brain and mood disorders have not been focused on much until the link between gut microbes and emotional behaviour was explored.

There is a two-way communication between microbes present in our gut and our central nervous system that regulates brain development and cognitive and emotional functions.

Antibiotics kill bacteria, whether infectious or not, and disturb the balance of gut microbes and their effect on mood.

In fact, in 1997, Sternbach and State described that antibiotics can cause mental health symptoms ranging from anxiety and panic attacks to delirium, depression and psychosis. [3]

This post goes over various scientific evidences on how antibiotics may cause depression, anxiety and mood changes.

Before we explore this in detail, let’s understand the gut microbe and how it affects our mood.

How Our Gut Health Affects Our Mood

Our gut hosts many microbial populations- approximately 1800 phyla and 40000 species. [4] The important types include Firmicutes (like Lactobacillus) and Bacteroidetes amongst the others such as Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria ( Bifidobacterium) and Cyanobacteria.

Our interaction with the gut microbes begins at birth and it is influenced by a variety of external factors as well as our genes. In fact, the gut microbiota genome (set of genetic material) is 100 to 150 times more numerous than the human genome.

The gut microbiota is considered as our second genome as it constitutes 90% of the total cells that interact with our body. [5] No wonder the strong urge to go with the ‘gut feeling’!  😛

Some of the functions of the gut microbiota include:

  • Supporting digestion
  • Maintaining energy and metabolic balance
  • Protecting from pathogens and toxins
  • Modulating immune defences
  • Regulating secretion of cytokines (chemicals involved in cell signalling)
  • Influencing insulin signalling
  • Modulating emotions and cognition

The composition of our gut microbiota is dynamic: some bacterial species reside for a lifetime while some are transient.

The few factors, apart from genes, that can influence this population include age, nutrition, physical activity, stress, infections, disorders and use of antibiotics. [6]

Here is a picture that highlights the two-way communication between our gut and brain

gut brain axis

Image Credit: Hongxing Wang and Yuping Wang. “Gut Microbiota-Brain Axis and Mental Health”. EC Psychology and Psychiatry 1.2 (2016): 55-60. [7]

Here is a quick summary of how the gut and brain interact and influence mood:

  • By sending immune modulating and inflammatory signals from the gut to the brain
  • Interacting via the vagus nerve, the tenth cranial nerve which connects the gut and the brain
  • Gut microbes produce Short Chain Fatty Acids that regulate many aspects of brain function.
  • Acting via enteroendocrine cells- a special type of intestinal cells that secrete agents which modulate our weight and appetite
  • Affecting tryptophan metabolism- an amino acid required to produce our ‘happy hormone’ serotonin
  • Gut microbes may produce other neurotransmitters or chemicals that affect brain function
  • By affecting HPA axis that is involved in our stress response

Quick Gist: Our gut contains about 40,000 species of microbe that aid in digestion and regulate our metabolism.

They are also referred to as our second genome- since their genetic set is about 100-150 times larger than the human genome.

There exists a bidirectional communication between the brain and the gut which is referred to as the microbiome-gut-brain axis.

These gut bacteria influence our mood and brain function by sending signals related to inflammation and immunity, activating the vagus nerve, producing agents that can modulate brain function and affect our stress response.

Can Infections Cause Or Worsen Depressive Symptoms?

A healthy balance among the populations of bacteria that reside in our gut can help protect our mood.

While battling chronic infections, the presence of high levels of depressive and anxiety symptoms reduces treatment response. [8]

Similarly, certain bacterial infections can induce depressive symptoms and anxiety. And in case of pre-existing mood disorders, these infections may worsen recovery from depression.

For example, treating acne may reduce depression, anxiety and psychosocial effects associated with the skin disorder. [9]

Psychological stress may be associated with an increase in Helicobacter pylori infection- the bacteria that is commonly known for aggravating acid reflux symptoms. [10]

Many patients with Candida infection report cognitive symptoms such as brain fog, anxiety, depression and mental fatigue. And treating the yeast infection improves mental health symptoms. [11]

In case of such disorders, treating the infections with antibiotics can help reduce the physical symptoms and burden of the disease as well as inflammation and immune function disturbances.

This may indirectly help alleviate mental health symptoms associated with the infections.

A study published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, 2016 also noted how medical and surgical treatment improved depressive symptoms in patients with chronic rhinosinusitis. [12]

65.9% of the patients who had depression at baseline experienced complete resolution after treatment.

Quick Gist: Certain infections can induce depressive symptoms and may worsen mood in case of pre-existing mental health conditions.

In such cases, treatment with antibiotics may help reduce mental health symptoms by targeting the infection.

Inappropriate Antibiotic Use May Increase Risk Of Depression And Mental Health Symptoms

In the previous section, we explored how treating infections may improve mental health in some individuals.

Contrastingly some studies have noted that despite antibiotic treatment, depressive symptoms may prevail, especially in case of gut infections like H.pylori. [13]

Despite receiving treatment for Lyme’s disease, patients complain of depression, poor memory and reduced focus. And additional antibiotic therapy is no better than placebo in improving mood. [14]

Wasan and colleagues have noted an increase in depressive and anxiety symptoms with increased antibiotic use in chronic rhinosinusitis. [15]

Have you considered this aspect that treatment resistance can cause depressive symptoms?

One aspect is that reduced response to treatment means that you have limited options of being free from the disorder and the burden of the illness, as well as reduced quality of life, causes depression.

Also, if you are susceptible to increased side effects with the use of medications, then this may also affect your mood adversely.

A group of Spanish researchers have observed that patients experiencing adverse drug reactions were 2 times more likely to face depression and 2.5 times more likely to experience anxiety. [16]

As per their observation, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medicines and drugs acting on the central nervous system were more likely to produce adverse drug reactions or side effects.

Antibiotics may cause mental health-related side effects

In 1997, Sternbach and State acknowledged the mental health symptoms occurring as a result of antibiotic use in their research paper ‘Antibiotics: neuropsychiatric effects and psychotropic interactions’. [17]

They described that since the introduction of antibiotic use in the 1930s, there have been several reports of antibiotics causing mental health side effects such as anxiety, panic attack, depression, delirium, hallucinations irrespective of whether the patient had a previous mood disorder history or not.

They highlighted that this toxicity could have occurred as result of inhibition of some brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) or due to adverse interactions with alcohol or psychiatric drugs.

A few risk factors that may increase the risk of developing depressive and other mental health symptoms with antibiotic use are:

Mental health disorders/symptoms before using antibiotics, Coexisting medical conditions, Age, Concomitant medications, High antibiotic use, Intrathecal or Intravenous Use.

Study finds a single course of antibiotic use increases the risk of depression

A study published in Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 2015 explored the effect of antibiotic exposure and the risk of developing depression, anxiety and psychosis. [18]

A single antibiotic course was associated with increased risk of depression, especially with penicillin and quinolone use.

Recurrent antibiotic exposure (2.5 to 5 courses) was found to increase the risk even further. Similarly, antibiotic use was associated with increased anxiety ( especially with penicillins and sulphonamides use).

Antifungals were also associated with a mild increase in depression and anxiety.

It’s been over a decade since researchers have developed an animal model- ‘germ-free’ animals. Rodents are specifically treated with antibiotics to deplete their gut bacteria and these animals have an exaggerated stress response and experience changes in behaviour. [19]

And similar side effects have been observed in humans as well.

A study published The Journal Of Community and Supportive Oncology reported that patients experience serious mental health symptoms within a few days after initiating fluoroquinolone antibiotic therapy and even after discontinuing it. [20]

A few mental health symptoms reported with fluoroquinolone use include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Insomnia
  • Suicidal Thoughts
  • Nightmares
  • Depersonalization
  • Impaired memory
  • Clouded thinking

Around 30% and 26% of the toxicities caused by levofloxacin and ciprofloxacin respectively are neurological in nature. In 2015, FDA recommended adding a new warning to fluoroquinolone product labels: ‘fluoroquinolone- associated disability.’

Fluoroquinolone induced toxicity affects many individuals across the world. Lisa Bloomquist, from, shares various resources and recovery stories for those experiencing fluoroquinolone toxicity.

Antibiotics may cause mania

Not only depression, antibiotics may also cause mood swings and mania. Researchers refer to this as ‘antibiomania’.

Such incidences of antibiotic-induced mania have been observed with antiretroviral therapy, clarithromycin use etc. wherein the patient developed mania-like symptoms (insomnia, aggressiveness, denial of problems, talkativeness, delusion) within a few days of starting the medications. [21] [22]

Discontinuation of antibiotic therapy and in some cases treatment with psychiatric medicines helped resolve the symptoms of antibiomania. Researchers hypothesize that such symptoms may occur due to the interaction of antibiotics and neurotransmitter GABA.

Inappropriate antibiotic use in children may affect their mental health adversely

Apart from adults, even children treated with antibiotics may run the risk of developing mental health disorders.

Slykerman and colleagues observed that children treated with antibiotics in the first year of life have behavioural difficulties and symptoms of depression at the age of 3.5 years. [23]

Multiple animal studies have also confirmed that antibiotic treatment during early life may have long-lasting changes in the gut microbe that can affect brain chemistry adversely and cause stress-related gastric disorders such as IBS in adulthood. [24] [25]

It’s time health practitioners reduce or the delay in the use of antibiotics to avoid such adverse events.

And we as consumers should work towards prevention of infections to whatever extent possible. In case of such side effects with antibiotics use, please consider consulting your doctor about the same.

Quick Gist: A single course of antibiotic is found to increase the risk of developing depression and anxiety.

Antibiotics may cause depression, anxiety and mood changes by influencing gut health and brain chemistry. Also, increase in side effects or drug interactions with antibiotic use may increase mental health symptoms.

Disturbance of gut bacteria by antibiotics causes an exaggerated stress response. Antibiotic use in children may cause behavioural difficulties and depressive symptoms in them.

If you are facing mental health-related side effects of antibiotic use, please consult your doctor about the same.

7 Biological Mechanisms Behind Antibiotic-Induced Depression & Other Mental Health Symptoms

Antibiotic-induced mood changes could include symptoms such as depression, anxiety, emotional instability, irritability, aggression, panic attacks, insomnia, brain fog, fatigue, mood swings, memory issues etc.

While there is no definite understanding as to how antibiotics may cause depression, anxiety, mood swings and other mental health symptoms, here are a few scientific evidences that can help build the hypothesis.

While I have cited a few studies that support these observations, I have also read a few studies that show contrasting findings.

Yes some antibiotics are found to relieve depressive symptoms and this may be linked with their structure and chemical properties as well as dosage.

However, it is pretty clear that in one way or another, antibiotics can affect our mood.

1.They disrupt the balance of various microbial populations in the gut

By killing certain microbial populations, other than the ones causing infection, antibiotics cause an imbalance in the gut flora. This is clinically referred to as ‘antibiotic-induced gut dysbiosis’.

This, in turn, disturbs the various pathways by which the gut is linked to brain health and impacts our mood negatively. [26]

However, after cessation of the antibiotic therapy, the microbes do recover.

2.They impair metabolism of sugar, amino acid and fats

By disrupting gut microbes, antibiotics impair the activity of pathways involved in sugar, fats and amino acid metabolism. [27] This may affect protein and nucleic acid synthesis.

Amino acids serve as precursors for neurotransmitter synthesis. Hence disturbance in their metabolism can affect mood and brain function adversely. [28]

3.They disrupt hormone synthesis

Antibiotic treatment is found to disturb the synthesis of hormones such as cortisol, progesterone thus suggesting that the gut microbes control these pathways. [29]

Disturbances in these hormones is observed in many mood disorders.

4.They influence immune responses and inflammatory pathways

Research confirms the role of inflammation and immune dysregulation in depression pathology. [30] [31]

Antibiotic treatment disturbs the eicosanoid pathway; eicosanoid is an important inflammatory mediator and the pathway is essential for maintaining optimal immune responses. [32]

5.They can affect brain chemistry

You must be aware of the neurotransmitter hypothesis of depression. According to this hypothesis, an imbalance in various chemicals in the brain causes depressive symptoms and other mood disturbances.

A study published in Clinical Drug Investigation, 2017 reveals that antibiotics act on the central nervous system and affect the following neurotransmitters [33]:

  • GABA (beta-lactams, quinolones and clarithromycin)
  • Glutamate (D-cycloserine, aminoglycosides, and quinolones)
  • Monoamines (linezolid, metronidazole and isoniazid)

By interacting with or influencing neurotransmitters, antibiotics may affect mood.

6.They impact various biochemical targets associated with brain function and mood

Mitochondria are energy-producing units of the cell that help maintain cellular energy metabolism and antioxidant defences.

Stefano and colleagues have highlighted that antibiotics may cause mitochondrial dysfunction which may result in mood disturbances and mental health disorders. [34]

Neurotrophins are proteins that are essential for development and survival of brain cells. Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) is a type of neurotrophin that may be involved in depression pathology.

Disruption of gut bacteria by antibiotics is found to disturb BDNF signalling thus causing mood swings, anxiety and depressive symptoms. [35] [36]

Some antibiotics may cause neurotoxicity or toxicity to the central nervous system. [37] They may cause neurological symptoms such as seizures and neuropathy in ‘high-risk’ populations.

7.They may interact with other drugs adversely

Various studies have noted that concomitant use of antibiotics and psychiatric medications worsens mental health symptoms in some individuals. [38] [39] [40] [41] [42]

List of Antibiotics That May Cause Depression & Mental Health Symptoms [Scientific Evidence]

Here is a list of few antibiotics whose use has been associated with the occurrence of mental health disturbances.

This list has been developed with the help of scientific citations and for informational use only. It is a precautionary notice of mental health symptoms observed with antibiotic use.

It is not designed to create a fear about antibiotic use or stop you from taking antibiotic therapy altogether. In case of life-threatening infections, antibiotic use cannot be overruled.

If you face any mental-health side effects while taking antibiotics, please consult your doctor about this.

Antibiotics Mental health symptoms
Anti-H.pylori treatment (proton-pump inhibitor and clarithromycin, along with amoxicillin or metronidazole) Anxiety, delirium, mania, dissociation, psychosis [43]
Antituberculosis medicines (Isoniazid) Convulsions, hallucinations, aggression, insomnia, memory problems, aggravation of depressive symptoms [44]
Cephalosporins (cefalexin, Cefuroxime) Sleep disturbances, hallucinations, delirium [45] [46] , Panic attack [47]
Chloramphenicol Depression [48]
D-cycloserine Dose dependent side effects such as mood swings, psychosis, hallucinations, suicidal ideation, delirium, mania [49] [50] [51] [52] [53]
Fluoroquinolones (Ciprofloxacin, norfloxacin, and ofloxacin, gemifloxacin, levofloxacin, and moxifloxacin.) Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, nightmares, clouded thinking, memory issues, depersonalization

Suicidal thoughts, psychosis, convulsions, restlessness, speech issues, antibiomania  [54] [55] [56] [57] [58]

Macrolides (Clarithromycin, Azithromycin, Erythromycin, Clindamycin) A four fold increase in mental health symptoms such as psychosis and cognitive impairment within a 14 day treatment period, hallucinations, antibiotic induced mania or antibiomania  [59] [60] [61] [62]

Visual and auditory hallucinations (a unique case report) Delirium, Agitation [63] [64] [65] , Nightmares [66] [67]

Depression, hallucinations, psychosis, encephalopathy, Agitated depression, confusion [68] [69] [70] [71]

Metronidazole Depression, hallucinations, psychosis, encephalopathy, Agitated depression, confusion, antibiomania [72] [73] [74] [75] [76]
Penicillin (Amoxicillin) Anxiety, Irritability, sedation, hallucination, encephalopathy [77],

Confusion,  agitation, suicidal thoughts, irritability, sedation, psychosis, cognitive impairment [78] [79] [80]

Tetracycline antibiotics (tetracycline, oxytetracycline, doxycycline or minocycline) Mood disturbances, sleep disorders, reduced concentration [81]
Trimethoprim-Sulfamethoxazole Psychosis, Hallucinations, self-injury [82] [83] [84]

Antibiotics As Antidepressants: Can Antibiotics Treat Major Depressive Disorder?

Earlier I told you, that the exact mechanism by which antibiotics modulate mood is not known.

While some studies show that could negatively impact our mood, some depict the opposite.

Surprising enough, researchers have looked at the therapeutic potential of antibiotics for relieving depressive symptoms.

This dual effect of antibiotics could be dose dependent or related to their structure or class to which they belong (their chemical structure may influence their chemical properties).

Multiple studies in animal models of depression have found that certain antibiotics such as doxycycline, ceftriaxone, beta-lactam antibiotics, modified quinolone antibiotics, linezolid mediate an antidepressant effect. [85] [86] [87] [88] [89]

They possibly act in the following ways:

  • Lowering inflammation
  • Reducing oxidative stress (imbalance between prooxidant and antioxidant agents)
  • Influencing BDNF levels (the protein vital for survival and development of neurons)
  • Influencing neurotransmitters or brain chemistry

A few have progressed to human studies as well. A study published in Journal of Affective Disorders, 2018 confirmed that minocycline shows a large antidepressant potential in comparison to placebo. [90]

D-cycloserine is another antibiotic that also exerts an antidepressant effect. It acts on a receptor in the brain called NMDA receptor to influence neurotransmitter glutamate and GABA.

However, its dosing is very important, at certain doses it may worsen mental health conditions. [91] [92]

Researchers have also identified some antibiotics with eubiotic properties- these kill infectious bacteria and positively modulate our gut microflora. [93]

How To Treat Antibiotic-Induced Depression and Mood Disturbances Naturally

In most cases, antibiotic-induced mental health symptoms such as depression and anxiety resolve after the antibiotic therapy are completed.

If mild symptoms persist even after stopping antibiotics then you could consider using the natural therapies mentioned below.

If you are experiencing severe symptoms during or after the antibiotic course, then it is best to consult your doctor about discontinuing or switching to a different therapy.

1.Use Probiotics & Prebiotics To Nourish Your Gut

When we have discussed so much about gut health and mood, the article would seem incomplete if we do not mention probiotics.

Probiotics are gut-friendly microbes that help re-establish the gut microflora and supports its recovery from disturbances.

By normalising gut microbial population, they deliver antidepressant, anxiolytic, immune-modulating, anti-inflammatory and gastroprotective effects.

Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are the most common genera of probiotics that help in depression and anxiety. (Read Benefits Of Probiotics For Depression)

Various research studies in animal models have found certain probiotic generas to be particularly useful for remedying antibiotic-induced depression and anxiety.

Lactobacillus fermentum strain NS9 reduces ampicillin induced anxiety, inflammation and memory issues. [94]

A combination of Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus helveticus (each of these strains are commonly found in fermented foods) support recovery from antibiotic-induced gut dysbiosis and reduce inflammation. [95]

Lactobacillus rhamnosus can ameliorate antibiotic-induced gastric injury and diarrhoea. [96]

18 strains from Lactobacillus species commonly present in traditional fermented foods and prebiotic fructooligosaccharides help attenuate cephalosporin induced gut damage. [97]

You can include some probiotic-rich foods in your diet such as yoghurt, fermented cabbage, kefir, pickles, buttermilk, tempeh, miso etc.

Gradual introduction of these foods in your diet should help you recover from antibiotic-induced gut disturbances.

If you plan to take supplements, feel free to check my suggestions on a few good brands of probiotics for depression.

Similarly, there is something called ‘prebiotics’.

Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that nourish the gut bacteria. Research suggests that prebiotic may modestly influence brain chemistry by altering gut microbes. [98]

Garlic, leeks, onions, asparagus and bananas are good prebiotic foods.

2.Consider natural herbs as antibiotic alternatives for mild infections

When it comes to antibiotics and gut health, herbs can be used in two ways:

  1. As alternatives to conventional antibiotics in case of mild infections or drug-resistant infections
  2. As neuroprotective or brain protective agents

About the first point, in case of mild infections such as flu, slight stomach upsets or even mild Candida infections, herbs can be helpful.

For example, turmeric-ginger tea delivers excellent results in preventing or treating flu.

Combination of turmeric, ginger and honey (recipe) helps cure a sore throat and naturally boosts immunity.

Manuka honey is also a novel natural antibiotic that is good for minor respiratory or gut infections.

Elderberry syrups are reported to fight flu in children and adults.

About the second point, certain herbs can be used as neuroprotective agents and can help fight the toxicity associated with antibiotics.

While some herbal bioactives act in synergy with antibiotics and deliver better results, there is also a chance of herb-drug interactions.

You may consider including some herbs in your diet to minimise drug interaction risk. If you plan to take supplements, ensure you take standardised extracts.

It’s best to start herbs after you complete the antibiotic course to avoid drug interactions. Please consult your health practitioner and also a herbalist before taking herbal supplements.

Also, maintain a 3-4 hour gap between taking herbs and any medications. Don’t forget to check the side effects associated with herb use.

Here are a few herbs that I would suggest as natural alternatives:

a) Turmeric

Turmeric and its active constituent curcumin have a plethora of health benefits including anti-microbial action. Apart from being a natural antibiotic, it is also a neuroprotective agent and protects from drug-induced toxicity. [99]

Curcumin can help reduce depression and anxiety symptoms.

Avoid turmeric supplements if you are taking blood thinners.  Among the various supplement types, standardised 95% curcumin and bioperine is good for treating infections. (Read & Buy Suggested Curcumin Supplements)

b) Ginger

Ginger belongs to the same family as turmeric and shares its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. [100]

Ginger in the diet is therapeutic for common cold and malaise. It also protects and heals stomach health.

It may help mitigate nausea and loss of appetite caused by high dose antibiotics. (Buy Ginger Supplements from Amazon or iHerb)

c) Neem

Neem is one of the potent antimicrobials used in Ayurveda- Traditional Indian Medicine System. [101]

While it works against most infectious bacteria, traditional evidence suggests that it is amazing for skin infections. (Buy Neem Supplements from Amazon or iHerb)

d) Garlic

Garlic has potential antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties. [102] It is good for stomach infections, flu and Candida.

You may consider consuming 1-2 raw garlic cloves a day with meals.

e) Holy basil

Holy basil has a unique combination of antimicrobial and neuroprotective properties. [103]

It can help mitigate antibiotic-induced toxicity and remedy depression and anxiety associated with it. (Buy Holy Basil/Tulsi Supplements from Amazon or iHerb)

3.Use Essential Oils As Natural Antibiotics For Mild Infections

Certain essential oils can be useful when used locally for mild infections. For example, clove oil, diluted in coconut oil or any other edible carrier oil, can reduce a toothache and fight tooth infections.

Oil of oregano is also a popular natural alternative to antibiotics. It can be used to prevent infections and may work synergistically with antibiotics. [104] [105]

Dilute oregano oil with coconut oil before using it topically or orally.

4.Replenish your vitamins and minerals stores

Many of the conventional medicines, including high dose antibiotics, that we take tend to deplete our vitamin and mineral reserves. [106] [107]

Antibiotics tend to deplete B Complex vitamins, zinc, magnesium, calcium and Vitamin K. These vitamins help maintain optimal immune function and are also influence our mood.

B complex deficiency is associated with increased risk of depression. Minerals such as magnesium and zinc are effective natural antidepressants.

Restoring the gut bacteria and modifying the diet can replenish these vitamin and mineral levels in your body.

Please avoid vitamin supplements unless you have a severe deficiency. Also, antibiotics interact with certain vitamins and minerals; avoid taking them together.

Vitamin B rich foods: Eggs, Wholegrains, Meat, Fish, Milk, Fruits such as avocado and vegetables such as spinach, asparagus. Check this detailed source of foods rich in each of the B vitamins.

Magnesium-rich foods: Dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts, tofu

Zinc-rich foods: Oysters, meat, legumes, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, pine nuts, cashews

Calcium-rich foods: Dairy, Chia seeds, Poppy seeds, beans, lentils, tofu, dried figs

Vitamin K rich foods: Green leafy vegetables, dried basil, thyme, rosemary, chicken, egg yolk, kiwi

5.Modify your Diet To Heal Your Gut

Paying attention to your diet during the antibiotic course and after can help mitigate most side effects.

I know that antibiotics really ruin your taste and you may find it difficult to eat much. In such cases, consumption of broths, healthy soups and teas can help strengthen immunity.

After completing the course, start including probiotic foods in your diet or consider using probiotic supplements for a short period.

Include coconut oil in your diet to resolve any antibiotic-induced gut injury or inflammation. Consider increasing your omega-3 fatty acid intake.

Fibre-rich foods and a dash of culinary spices such as rosemary, thyme, turmeric will heal the gut and prevent infection.

Try to choose foods rich in vitamins and minerals such as those mentioned above (especially B vitamins).


Our gut hosts 40,000 microbial species that aid digestion, immune function and also influence brain health.

The microbiome-gut-brain axis is a two-way communication between the gut and the brain that regulates our emotions, mood and stress response.

Antibiotics are capable of modulating our gut microflora and thus indirectly affect our mood. Various research studies have noted several incidences of depression, anxiety and other mental health symptoms with antibiotic use.

The mechanism by which this occurs is not clearly understood. Since antibiotics modulate gut bacteria, researchers are exploring the possibility of utilising antibiotics as antidepressants.

To avoid such adverse mental health effects with inappropriate antibiotic use, health practitioners should reduce or delay the prescription of antibiotics. Also, patients should avoid self-medicating with and overuse of antibiotics.

Most mental health symptoms resolve after completing the antibiotic course. You can use probiotics and adopt some dietary changes to restore your gut and mood after the course.

If you are experiencing severe mental health symptoms during or after the antibiotic course please consult your doctor.

While this post acknowledges mental health associated side effects of antibiotic use, some of which are really alarming, please do not avoid using antibiotics in serious or life-threatening infections. Take an informed decision.

Explore the research on how antibiotics may cause depression, anxiety and other mental health symptoms.

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