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Could Depression/anxiety Issues Be Due To Gluten?
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Hi,

I've had mild depression/anxiety issues most of my life and I wonder if it could possibly be due to gluten? I just started a gluten-free diet to see if that solves my problems and I feel really crappy today. It was so similar to when I've tried giving up caffeine that I'm 99% positive it's withdrawal symptoms. In addition, I have had insomnia issues since at least high school. Could they be linked to gluten addiction? And about how long into the diet should I expect to see improvement?

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Yes, not only can gluten cause all kinds of mental health problems (depression, bi-polar, schizophrenia and others), it certainly is addictive. And I expect you are right in believing that you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

Please persevere with the diet, those symptoms should clear up within about two weeks, after which I expect you'll start feeling much better than ever before.

And yes, insomnia can also be due to gluten intolerance.

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I ask this question a lot. I know my daughter gets depressed. Way more depressed than you think a 10 year old should be and she has a very stable and supportive family, etc. so it's not like there are other traumas or issues she has to deal with.

She just has complete emotional meltdown and sadness that she has a hard time describing--even not following a glutening.

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Thanks. I just went to a doctor and got some prescription sleeping pills. I will give the diet a try. If nothing else, at least I'll be eating less crappy carbs.

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I began to have symptoms of Celiac over 20 years ago--of course at the time no one knew what the problem was. It was at this time that my panic attacks started. I had those, along with anemia and nausea for years.

When the disease kicked into high gear after a nasty case of the flu, the anxiety worsened and I began to be depressed. I would stay in bed for hours at a time during the day. I din't want to go anywhere or see anyone outside my husband and sons.

When I began the gluten-free diet, it got worse before it got better--and it took around 18 months for me to really come out completely from under the anxiety. It's been over 2 years now, and I haven't had a panic attack since I went gluten-free and except for when I get accidently glutened, the depression and anxiety are gone.

It's so nice to wake up and actually look forward to the day again! I was sick for many years, so I think that's why it took so long for me to really feel better.

It's something that gradually improves.

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In addition, I have had insomnia issues since at least high school. Could they be linked to gluten addiction? And about how long into the diet should I expect to see improvement?

\

oh Lord yes, girl! You have no idea. I"ll spare you the gory details at this time....I was mildly to deeply depressed my ENTIRE life, and spent much of it in a fog - or the alternate - MANIA. Was diagnosed bipolar in 1997, after nearly 20 years of seeing psychiatrists and other doctors.

Removing gluten, at the age of 44, has nearly TOTALLY eliminated my depression adn anxiety. It's been nearly two years, and it gets better all the time. :) I do get sad occasionally, but they are usually over genuine life issues and concerns, as opposed to the black cloud of darkness taht was with me nearly all of the time....

Stick with it! You should notice changes fairly soon - I did right away, but was VERY sick when I finally got diagnosed. Fell into a couple of pits in my recovery period, but they were short-lived.

My life's crusade, in fact, is to spread the word about gluten removal and mental health.

Welcome to the forum. :)

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I ask this question a lot. I know my daughter gets depressed. Way more depressed than you think a 10 year old should be and she has a very stable and supportive family, etc. so it's not like there are other traumas or issues she has to deal with.

She just has complete emotional meltdown and sadness that she has a hard time describing--even not following a glutening.

Is your daughter still consuming dairy? It can cause severe depression as well. My husband's cousin has a severe intolerance to dairy. Before they figured it out, she was in a deep black pit of depression, which even antidepressants wouldn't help.

When she eliminated dairy, the black cloud lifted, and she fully recovered. Now, if she dares drink milk or eat yoghourt, she will without fail be back in that pit of depression by the next day.

Please eliminate all dairy (and I mean every little bit of it) from your daughter's diet, and the depression may lift. And the same goes for soy, by the way.

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Is your daughter still consuming dairy? It can cause severe depression as well. My husband's cousin has a severe intolerance to dairy. Before they figured it out, she was in a deep black pit of depression, which even antidepressants wouldn't help.

When she eliminated dairy, the black cloud lifted, and she fully recovered. Now, if she dares drink milk or eat yoghourt, she will without fail be back in that pit of depression by the next day.

Please eliminate all dairy (and I mean every little bit of it) from your daughter's diet, and the depression may lift. And the same goes for soy, by the way.

My husband and I are very seriously considering it. We've talked about it a lot lately. She has also had a lot of other stressors lately so we're trying to do a few things, mainly help her cope with stress which has never been her strong point. One thing we have done is supplement calcium with Viactiv which has helped in many ways (leg pains, etc) but I know that has dairy in it (which is a mega bummer because she enjoys taking it).

However, when I think back to her Celiac dx, she really avoided things like pizza and spaghetti because they didn't make her feel good and loved to eat rice dishes and gravitated toward them (we just thought it was reflux, etc). Fast forward one year, we're getting our grips on gluten-free and she begins to show a disdain toward drinking her milk. Unless it's practically frozen cold, she wants nothing to do with it. Now, her dad of old-school thinking would "force" her to drink the milk (I never liked milk anyway so I could care less if she ever drank her milk). With the advent of Celiac, though, his understanding is increasing about the relationships between food/brain/wellness, etc. and we've discussed pulling dairy for her. She certainly wouldn't miss it (she's not a fan of cheese much either).

More than anything, removing dairy (at minimum for her which would mean probably dairy-lite for the rest of the house which I am practically already) would make cooking interesting for sure. She would miss ice cream terribly and probably curse me for it! Just thinking about getting a little more stability for her would be very, very nice and if it meant pulling dairy I would absolutely do it.

Then there's soy....I don't think I could even get my arms around that it this point, especially with all the label reading I do now and how much soy is in everything. Granted, for the most part we focus on whole foods rather than processed ones, but there's definitely some staples in our house that would have to go.

And thanks so much Ursa for your very thoughtful points of view!

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You know, you don't need dairy for calcium at all. When people say you need dairy for calcium, I ask them, "Where do you think cows get their calcium for those strong bones?" Well, the answer is, of course, green grass!

Green leafy vegetables have way more calcium than dairy has ever had, and our bodies can actually use it. The calcium in dairy can't be used by the human body, because the enzyme needed for that is killed by pasteurization.

And of course, the leg pain might be caused by dairy as well (or soy, or both). It sure makes my joints and muscles ache! And I do know, because sometimes I am being 'bad' and eat ice cream or whipped cream. And I will pay for it afterwards.

There are nice rice ice creams and sherbets out there that your daughter could have.

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Why don't mainstream doctors KNOW these things?! I struggled with depression and anxiety for about four years; nobody told me it was associated with celiac disease. I found out for myself online. My new doctor told me that serotonin, one of the neurotransmitters that are low in depressed people, is generated mostly by your intestines, not your brain. So undiagnosed celiacs have the double whammy of not absorbing the nutrients necessary to manufacture neurotransmitters and inflamed intestines that can't generate serotonin. They also can't absorb vitamin D3, which is also associated with depression. A gluten free diet and dietary supplements have pretty much cleared up my depression; my antidepressant certainly didn't. It did take a while, and I had to figure out some other food intolerance problems first. Good luck!

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However, when I think back to her Celiac dx, she really avoided things like pizza and spaghetti because they didn't make her feel good and loved to eat rice dishes and gravitated toward them (we just thought it was reflux, etc). Fast forward one year, we're getting our grips on gluten-free and she begins to show a disdain toward drinking her milk. Unless it's practically frozen cold, she wants nothing to do with it. Now, her dad of old-school thinking would "force" her to drink the milk (I never liked milk anyway so I could care less if she ever drank her milk). With the advent of Celiac, though, his understanding is increasing about the relationships between food/brain/wellness, etc. and we've discussed pulling dairy for her. She certainly wouldn't miss it (she's not a fan of cheese much either).

More than anything, removing dairy (at minimum for her which would mean probably dairy-lite for the rest of the house which I am practically already) would make cooking interesting for sure. She would miss ice cream terribly and probably curse me for it! Just thinking about getting a little more stability for her would be very, very nice and if it meant pulling dairy I would absolutely do it.

Then there's soy....I don't think I could even get my arms around that it this point, especially with all the label reading I do now and how much soy is in everything. Granted, for the most part we focus on whole foods rather than processed ones, but there's definitely some staples in our house that would have to go.

And thanks so much Ursa for your very thoughtful points of view!

Please give sorbets and smoothies a try. I have not been able to tolerate dairy but yogurt in small amounts is fine. I bought a vitamix a few years back and it is the best thing for this. Use frozen fruit, or fresh fruit and ice cubes along with some juice, orange or cranberry is good. I add a small amount of plain yogurt for creaminess especially when I make it for my daughter who is a poor eater.

These make you forget there is such a thing as no ice cream. Chocolate is the only thing I haven't figured out, I love choc ice cream but it doesn't love me and I don't know how to make a smoothie taste like it! I hate soy so I haven't tired it. Homemade almond milk is supposed to be good but I don't like the store bought milk replacers. Soy silk was pretty good but I haven't used it in years so I don't know if its a brand we can have.

There are a lot of blenders out there that can make smoothies but I don't think they can do the frozen fruit ice cream replacement like the vita mix can.

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I've had depression on and off for several years. I started going gluten free several months ago and WOW, the depression has been much better. Even my husband has commented that I seem happier now.

I started eating gluten for my celiac test recently and the depression/irritability has definitely come back.

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Why don't mainstream doctors KNOW these things?! I struggled with depression and anxiety for about four years; nobody told me it was associated with celiac disease. I found out for myself online. My new doctor told me that serotonin, one of the neurotransmitters that are low in depressed people, is generated mostly by your intestines, not your brain. So undiagnosed celiacs have the double whammy of not absorbing the nutrients necessary to manufacture neurotransmitters and inflamed intestines that can't generate serotonin. They also can't absorb vitamin D3, which is also associated with depression. A gluten free diet and dietary supplements have pretty much cleared up my depression; my antidepressant certainly didn't. It did take a while, and I had to figure out some other food intolerance problems first. Good luck!

Right before I found out that my aunt had celiac and I decided to go gluten-free I was reading The second brain : the scientific basis of gut instinct and a groundbreaking new understanding of stomach and bowel disorders by Michael Gershon. Finding out from that book that my neurological symptoms might be related to my GI symptoms made me all the more determined to find out what was wrong with me. I had been asking doctors for 15 years about celiac disease, but it wasn't until my aunt was diagnosed that I decided to go gluten-free on my own. BTW, my aunt didn't have GI symptoms with her celiac, depression and anxiety were her major symptoms.

Kate

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I felt inspired to join and reply today as I felt gladdened that I am not the only person to feel this way. I made the mistake of thinking I would be ok if I ate that icecream cone and boy am I sorry now.....I said to myself last year after hitting a low that if I ate something with wheat/gluten in it and I felt this way again then I will be convinced that my mood swings are directly linked to an intolerance to both wheat and gluten. I am only new to this but since I left w/g out of my diet, I have lost 10kilos, gained more energy and now realise that Im not as bad as I thought I was - I have been depressed all this time. I only suffered this after two pregnancies and two serious bouts of Post Natal Depression. I could never feel well. I am also interested to note that some writers report an inability to sleep well - I cannot maintain a full nights sleep and rarely wake refreshed, even after a brand new mattress!. so, thanks for sharing, it has helped me greatly to know that I am not alone

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I've been a very anxious girl ever since childhood. But since I eliminated gluten from my diet and started getting my vitamin D levels back up to normal, I've really improved. I wish mainstream doctors new food intolerances could be a problem/cause of anxiety/depression, rather than just prescribe drugs for boost your seratonin levels. I tried to get my vitamin D levels tested before I even knew gluten could be a factor. I was laughed out of the doctors office.

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Why don't mainstream doctors KNOW these things?!

I wonder too. But maybe we who do know (now, after years or decades of suffering) that gluten has an effect on the brain (and on the psyche) we shd start some kind of testing...especially among addictive people who are non-glutensensitive. because if it wd turn out that their addictions (cravings) diminish, that it would be an important discovery. I imagine that many people with no gluten-sensitivity (but clear addictive symptoms) would find relief from cravings (and underlying depression).

geokozmo

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Hi,

I've had mild depression/anxiety issues most of my life and I wonder if it could possibly be due to gluten? I just started a gluten-free diet to see if that solves my problems and I feel really crappy today. It was so similar to when I've tried giving up caffeine that I'm 99% positive it's withdrawal symptoms. In addition, I have had insomnia issues since at least high school. Could they be linked to gluten addiction? And about how long into the diet should I expect to see improvement?

I am a Celiac. When I started the diet, I just felt better and better.

There is no scientific evidence for the so called gluten addiction. There are no double blind research studies. All the stories are anctedotal.

Gluten is in Wheat, Rye, Barley, and (thru cross contamination) Oats. You have to eliminate everything that contains even traces of these four before you are truly on a gluten free diet. You are probably feeling poorly because you have only eliminated some of the gluten in your diet.

You have to be an expert at reading labels.

You also have to make your home totally gluten-free. If you ever cooked with flour, a coating of flour remains on top of the sugar, you breath it in from the air, get it from the cosmetics, hand creams, hair sprays, shampoos, and on and one.

It is not as simple as never eating wheat again.

Try reading some books about Celiac disease. You will feel better once you eliminate all gluten from your home.

Oh yeah, you can no longer walk into donut shops or drink coffe because their cups become coated with gluten.

Good luck.

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Hi,

I've had mild depression/anxiety issues most of my life and I wonder if it could possibly be due to gluten? I just started a gluten-free diet to see if that solves my problems and I feel really crappy today. It was so similar to when I've tried giving up caffeine that I'm 99% positive it's withdrawal symptoms. In addition, I have had insomnia issues since at least high school. Could they be linked to gluten addiction? And about how long into the diet should I expect to see improvement?

Sorry, got a little off topic. This is a complex issue. The depression from gluten poisoning comes from your intestines failing to absorb nutrition vital to brain function.

Once you get on a totally gluten-free diet, your brain will get the nutrition it needs and these problems will improve.

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100% YES. Long story short, my Gluten Intolerance triggered a severe magnesium deficiency which wreaked havoc on my mind and body. - and regular Drs. do the wrong blood tests for it so even if you came back with "normal levels" it might not be the case. Keep it up if and see your Dr. for good supplements - ask about magnesium. (Over the counter CVS ones can rreally give you the runs if you take too much so careful but they are a start.) It took me about a month to really notice a difference and each month after is just amazing. I had no idea that you were supposed to feel like this! Here - see if anything here rings a bell under symptoms: http://www.mbschachter.com/importance_of_m...um_to_human.htm Good Luck!

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wow good post.

i was an terribly anxious child, just terrified of everything. when i got into college i had major panic attacks and have had 2 two-year periods in my life of being on anti-depressants. the first round helped in 2000, later in 2005 the drugs made me into a zombie (slow moving, lack of personality, just droning along) and also made me consider suicide quite a few times.

all through college i was diagnosed with unexplained chronic fatigue, anemia, they thought i had MS, lyme disease, mono etc. - i was sent to neurologists, many doctors. not once did anyone ask about diet (pasta bagels and coffee! yeah college).

after removal of gluten from my diet less than 2 months ago, i have seen remarkable disappearances of all kinds of weird symptoms including the anxiety! i feel totally different, not on edge all the time. it is amazing. it took about a month of carb cravings followed by a few weeks of sugar cravings ( i was never into candy before) and finally i feel so levelled out. i am still getting used to it.

also, i finally got tested for vitamin D - it's low!, and am taking supplements finally :)

hugs,

newburyport!

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I know that this is a really old post/thread... but I just wanted to hi-light this again. This has made me feel so much better today. I have been gluten free for a week now and my anxiety has been pretty bad the last 3 days. Reading this was exactly what I needed... thanks for sharing :)

I began to have symptoms of Celiac over 20 years ago--of course at the time no one knew what the problem was. It was at this time that my panic attacks started. I had those, along with anemia and nausea for years.

When the disease kicked into high gear after a nasty case of the flu, the anxiety worsened and I began to be depressed. I would stay in bed for hours at a time during the day. I din't want to go anywhere or see anyone outside my husband and sons.

When I began the gluten-free diet, it got worse before it got better--and it took around 18 months for me to really come out completely from under the anxiety. It's been over 2 years now, and I haven't had a panic attack since I went gluten-free and except for when I get accidently glutened, the depression and anxiety are gone.

It's so nice to wake up and actually look forward to the day again! I was sick for many years, so I think that's why it took so long for me to really feel better.

It's something that gradually improves.

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Going gluten-free has changed the way I feel mentally and emotional dramatically! I have dealt with sadness, depression, and anxiety for a couple years now and have struggled to overcome it. I went gluten-free for other reasons, but noticed a change in my behaviors not too long after I went gluten-free. When I accidentally get in touch with gluten food, my behaviors make a 180 and I am crabby, irritable, sad, etc... YES! Their is truth to linking a gluten-free diet to better mentality and emotionally intact.

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Great to hear that rebe thanks :) I'm still struggling today and just desperate to get over this stage! 8 days Gluten free now...

Going gluten-free has changed the way I feel mentally and emotional dramatically! I have dealt with sadness, depression, and anxiety for a couple years now and have struggled to overcome it. I went gluten-free for other reasons, but noticed a change in my behaviors not too long after I went gluten-free. When I accidentally get in touch with gluten food, my behaviors make a 180 and I am crabby, irritable, sad, etc... YES! Their is truth to linking a gluten-free diet to better mentality and emotionally intact.
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If anyone here has removed gluten from their diet but still struggles with depression -- keep in mind soy is a HUGE cause too. This includes soy lecithin and ANY traces of soy. Another food is corn -- and corn is in MILLIONS of items (google: "Corn Allergy" and check out the list of items). Another one is tomatoes and nightshades. But SOY is the MOST COMMON!!!!!!

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reading this thread is very encouraging! I've been diagnosed as mentally ill for almost half my life and am just now on the way to being diagnosed as celiac. I'm known as being medication resistant because meds have never helped my mental health symptoms. I'm so excited to go gluten free and see if it helps! thus could be a real lifesaver - literally!

question: how long did it take for your symptoms to go away?? what symptoms did you get from gluten withdrawal?

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    • That's great to hear you are feeling better Nightsky.  I really think when our GI systems are in distress already that it doesn't take much to set off symptoms.  Once I eliminated the other foods that cause me symptoms that helped a lot too.  And added some extra vitamin D to my diet and selenium. Many of us have developed reactions to other foods besides gluten and need to avoid them to keep symptoms at bay.  For me nightshades, carrots, soy, dairy, and celery all cause symptoms.  It took me awhile to figure out all those food culprits, but it made a big difference getting them out of my diet. But we are all individuals, and our bodies react individually.  So you may or may not have additional food intolerances develop. Celiac is one of those life journey things and we learn as we go.  Just keep the bottle of aspirin handy!
    • I know that Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce  in the US is gluten free, I also know that in Canada it is NOT. This is a very reliable site: http://www.glutenfreedietitian.com/vinegar/ But it is in the US. I'm agast that the Irish Celiac Society says malt vinegar is gluten free.  I wouldn't use it. No sense taking any chance at all.
    • You should never have cut out gluten until you had the biopsy done. It's much worse to have to go back on after you've been off gluten for a while. There's no way I could ever do the gluten challenge after being off gluten for even a month because my reactions got so dramatically worse.  Stress definately can trigger celiac- before I was diagnosed - it got the worst after surgery and after a stressful time planning my daughters wedding. 
    • Hi not diagnosed celiac, Welcome to the forum! Your doctor should be sent to remedial celiac disease training.  Since that probably won't happen, I suggest you find a new doctor.  He doesn't know what he's doing when it comes to diagnosing celiac disease. You should not have gone gluten-free before completing all celiac disease testing.  The testing for celiac disease depends on the immune reaction being active.  Removing gluten before testing removes the antigen that causes the immune system to react, and lowers the chances of getting a correct test result dramatically.  The University of Chicago celiac disease center recommends: ******************************************** http://www.cureceliacdisease.org/faq/what-is-a-gluten-challenge/ Prior to blood testing we recommend 12 weeks of eating gluten. Prior to an endoscopic biopsy we recommend 2 weeks of eating gluten. In the case of a severe reaction to gluten, a medical professional may opt to shorten the 12-week challenge and move immediately to an endoscopic biopsy. May, 2013 ******************************************** So you will need to go back to eating gluten before your endoscopy.  That may cause worse symptoms than before when you were eating gluten.  So it would have been better to do all testing before going gluten-free. Can you search for a celiac disease support group in your area?  They exist in many parts of the USA and world.  They can be a good place to get a knowledgeable doctor recommendation.  There is also a doctors subsection of this forum where you can search to see if any doctors in your area were recommended.
    • Hi All, I'm new to this and very confused! I have Lea & Perrins WC sauce, it lists it's first ingredient as Malt Vinegar.  I have the Coeliac Society of Ireland Food List 2015 here, and it says "All Vinegars are Gluten Free including Malt Vinegar." Doesn't that mean that L&P Worcestershire sauce is safe?   Their website states " Lea & Perrins® Worcestershire Sauce is cholesterol free, fat free, preservative free, gluten free and has 80% less sodium than soy sauce. " I'm cooking for my coeliac niece, can't afford to make a mistake!
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