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Celiac Disease Tied to Depression in Adolescents


Teens with celiac disease often have symptoms of depression. Image: CC--Rui Barros

Celiac.com 06/23/2016 - Digestive Disease Week 2016 took place in San Diego from May 21-24. Among the presentations given was one that stood out for its obvious health impacts. That presentation was given by Jonathan Cordova, DO, pediatric gastroenterologist at the University of Chicago Medical Center. His presentation tied celiac disease to major depressive disorder in adolescents, and stated that most adolescents with celiac disease have symptoms consistent with the disorder.

Dr. Cordova said that "...interim analysis does suggest that a majority of adolescents living with celiac disease may have symptoms consistent with major depressive disorder," and that the depression has a negative impact on their quality of life, "but does not appear to be associated with their celiac disease state." That is, the depression does not seem to be impacted by how well their celiac disease is doing. Healthy gut and gluten-free diet, or unhealthy gut, with symptoms, it doesn't seem to matter. The depression levels seem about the same whatever the case.

A number of recent studies indicate that depression and anxiety are the main reasons people with celiac disease report decreased quality of life, Dr. Cordova and his colleagues wrote. But, most of these studies were done on adults, almost none used adolescents, and adolescents may be more susceptible to depression.

The research team was able to connect celiac disease with mental health disorders in adolescents by administering questionnaires to adolescents and their parents. Average age of adolescents was 14.6 years at the time of survey and 11.2 years at the time of diagnosis.

The researchers found no correlation between celiac disease and depression, anxiety, ADHD, age at survey, quality of life, age at diagnosis or length of time on a gluten free diet. However, the majority of adolescents and parental reports screened positive for major depressive disorder.

Interestingly, a parent's perception of the state of their child's celiac disease impacted their perception of depression in their child.

Dr. Cordova says that "the data suggests that early screening for depression in any adolescent with celiac disease is crucial to help optimize behavioral health,"

Dr. Cordova's team plans to follow these patients into young adulthood, and aims to re-screen them again in 5 years.

Reference: 

  • Cordova J, et al. Abstract #844. Presented at: Digestive Disease Week; May 21-24, 2016; San Diego

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1 Response:

 
Heather
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said this on
28 Jun 2016 7:59:07 AM PST
As an adult diagnosed with celiac, I began to feel much better after about a year on the gluten free diet, and was pleased that the major depression subsided. However, a new sadness and anxiety was ushered in when food choices became a tense exercise in label-reading, and when I could no longer participate the same way in social gatherings that were centered around group meals, or as it's said "breaking bread" together. Being that teens are at the most social point in their lives, I wonder if some of the depression is caused by the extra and sometimes sudden challenges of having to majorly change their diets, having to feel singled-out and "different", feeling excluded from various food-centered activities they once shared with friends, etc. As many of us know, depending on the amount of or lack of family and friend support regarding the gluten-free diet, it can be a very tough and scary time when you learn that foods you formerly enjoyed are now "the enemy". Pile this on top of all the unique social issues celiac teens must grapple with along with just the normal social issues all teens must tackle and you have a ripe environment for depression, it would seem.




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