New Study Finds Probiotic Treatment Can Reduce Rehospitalization for Individuals with Mania

Study also concludes probiotic treatment resulted in fewer days rehospitalized

BALTIMORE, April 30, 2018 /PRNewswire/—Individuals who are hospitalized for mania—one of the symptoms of bipolar disorder characterized by abnormally elevated mood—are at high risk for psychiatric rehospitalization after discharge. Rehospitalization is common for these individuals even when receiving outpatient treatment. A recent study from Sheppard Pratt Health System found that individuals who received a probiotic supplement for six months following a hospital stay for mania had a lower rate of rehospitalization in the follow-up period.

The study, which was recently published online in Bipolar Disorders, also indicated that for individuals with high levels of gastrointestinal inflammation, probiotic treatment was associated with approximately a 90% reduction in the risk of rehospitalization during the study.

"Previous studies have identified correlations between immunological abnormalities and mania, and this may contribute to the acute mood state. With increasing evidence about the potential benefits of probiotics to regulate mood through the gut-brain axis, we saw an opportunity to further explore the use of probiotics as there have been no published trials with mania," explained Dr. Faith Dickerson, director of the Stanley Research Program at Sheppard Pratt and lead researcher on this study.

The clinical trial studied 66 participants from November 2012 to December 2016. All participants were patients who had been admitted to Sheppard Pratt's inpatient or day hospital programs during that timeframe. Participants were enrolled in a randomized trial with about half given an add-on probiotic supplement and the other half a placebo in addition to both groups receiving regularly prescribed psychiatric medications and other treatments. Participants were evaluated during a 24-week period after they had been discharged by weekly phone calls and monthly in-person visits.

More than half (51%) of the participants in the placebo group had at least one rehospitalization during the study period, while only about a quarter (24%) of the individuals receiving the probiotics had a rehospitalization. The study also found that individuals in the placebo group were hospitalized for more days compared to those in the probiotic group (mean of 8.3 days compared to a mean of 2.8 days). Overall the individuals in the placebo group were hospitalized for a total of 275 days as compared to 93 days for those in the probiotic group.

"We are excited by these results as probiotic supplements are highly acceptable to patients, low cost, and have few, if any side effects," said Dr. Dickerson.

The study was funded by the Stanley Medical Research Institute (SMRI).

A new study is underway at Sheppard Pratt to determine if probiotic supplementation is also beneficial for patients who are hospitalized for bipolar depression.

Media Contact:
Tamara Chumley 
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SOURCE Sheppard Pratt Health System

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Sheppard Pratt Health System

Sheppard Pratt Health System is the largest private, non-profit provider of mental health, substance use, special education, and social services in the country. A nationwide resource, Sheppard Pratt provides 2.3 million services annually across a comprehensive continuum of care. Since its founding in 1853, Sheppard Pratt has been innovating the field through research, best practice implementation, and a focus on improving the quality of mental health care on a global level.