Most symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) — gas, cramping, diarrhea and constipation — are very uncomfortable, very embarrassing and very painfully obvious.

Considering the pain and discomfort you may be feeling, however, you may not be paying as much attention to one specific symptom — depression — as it really deserves.

Plus, taking drugs like mesalazine may be good for treating some IBS symptoms, but they don’t address the real problem: Restoring a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut.

Not only can taking a probiotic be a safer way to restore and protect that gut bacteria balance, it may also treat the symptoms of depression associated with IBS too, according to a recent study published in Gastroenterology.

Researchers at McMaster University in Canada studied the effect that prescribing a probiotic formulated with a proprietary blend of Bifidobacterium longum (one of the 10 species of beneficial bacteria found in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic) has on treating depression.

Over the course of 10 weeks, scientists monitored the health of 44 patients, half of whom took a probiotic while the rest were given a placebo.

After just six weeks, nearly two-thirds of patients in the probiotic group felt greater relief from their depression based on falling scores based on the standard Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), versus just seven in the placebo group.

More evidence that those falling HADS scores were real: Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging tests that showed changes in various sectors of the brain related to mood control.

Other good things could be taking place behind-the- scenes that moderate your mood levels, thanks to probiotics. For example, as much as 90 percent of your body’s serotonin, a chemical that works as a neurotransmitter in the brain, is produced in the gut.

Taking a probiotic is one important and safe way to protect and enhance the diversity of beneficial bacteria in your gut naturally, without a drug.