Chronic social defeat (CSD) in mice has been suggested as a model for studying post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Our previous work indicated that exposure to
Lactobacillus rhamnosusJB-1 (JB-1) during CSD can attenuate subsequent behavioural and immune disruption, suggesting a potential for microbe based therapeutic approaches in PTSD. In the current study, we assessed the ability of JB-1 to mitigate the behavioral consequences of CSD when treatment is instigated in the early post-stress period and compared the probiotic effects with those of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), sertraline. JB-1 or sertraline were administered orally 48 h following 10-days of CSD in male C57BL/6 mice. Contrary to our hypothesis of a beneficial effect, 30 days of treatment with either JB-1 or sertraline increased the persistence of both aggressor avoidance and reduced sociability in defeated mice. This was accompanied by lower hippocampal mRNA expression for genes related to fear memory. Defeated mice treated with either JB-1 or sertraline also exhibited systemic immune changes, with a decrease in Th1 cells, activated monocytes, and the monocyte chemoattractant CCL2. This study identifies potentially detrimental effects of both JB-1 and sertraline if administered in the early post-trauma period and suggests caution should be applied when considering psychobiotic or SSRI based approaches for early intervention in trauma related psychiatric disorders.