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      Frequently Asked Questions About Celiac Disease   09/30/2015

      This Celiac.com FAQ on celiac disease will guide you to all of the basic information you will need to know about the disease, its diagnosis, testing methods, a gluten-free diet, etc.   Subscribe to FREE Celiac.com email alerts What are the major symptoms of celiac disease? Celiac Disease Symptoms What testing is available for celiac disease? - list blood tests, endo with biopsy, genetic test and enterolab (not diagnostic) Celiac Disease Screening Interpretation of Celiac Disease Blood Test Results Can I be tested even though I am eating gluten free? How long must gluten be taken for the serological tests to be meaningful? The Gluten-Free Diet 101 - A Beginner's Guide to Going Gluten-Free Is celiac inherited? Should my children be tested? Ten Facts About Celiac Disease Genetic Testing Is there a link between celiac and other autoimmune diseases? Celiac Disease Research: Associated Diseases and Disorders Is there a list of gluten foods to avoid? Unsafe Gluten-Free Food List (Unsafe Ingredients) Is there a list of gluten free foods? Safe Gluten-Free Food List (Safe Ingredients) Gluten-Free Alcoholic Beverages Distilled Spirits (Grain Alcohols) and Vinegar: Are they Gluten-Free? Where does gluten hide? Additional Things to Beware of to Maintain a 100% Gluten-Free Diet Free recipes: Gluten-Free Recipes Where can I buy gluten-free stuff? Support this site by shopping at The Celiac.com Store.

Gluten And My Depression Experience
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16 posts in this topic

Hi, everyone! I am new here. I have been a different person mentally and physically I believe simply because I consumed gluten. Whole grains are supposed to be good for you, right? What a scam.

I have had digestive issues for as long as I can remember. I am 32 years old. I have always been bloated, grouchy, extremely fatigued all day long, unable to function in social situations, unable to make new friendships, irritable, and the list goes on. I don't know why I didn't think to cut out gluten before. My mom was tested recently for food sensitivities and was sensitive to gluten. I decided to stop eating it three days ago and feel better than I have my entire life! I am elated and have new hope for myself and my future. I cannot express how grateful I am to finally have an answer.

I have been diagnosed with depression, bipolar, anxiety, delayed phase sleep disorder, and was given medications for these illnesses. All the pills did was drive me crazy (crazier than I already felt). I wish I had known that my behavioral and physical issues were related to consumption of gluten. I really messed up my life in a lot of ways due to feeling bad all the time. So I felt depressed and continued scarfing bread and pasta. The question is, which came first, the depression or the gluten intolerance...

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Since by nature I am neither depressive nor do I have any clinical psychological or mental health issues (or so I am told),

I was perplexed and frustrated and damn scared when I fell into depressive thinking and developed anxiety and had bouts of real fear and frantic or obsessive thinking. I was an insomniac to the point of real sleep deprivation and had a sleep study done. This went on for 3 years --along with many other symptoms---before my DX.

It was the celiac. I call it "Gluten head" and I was very ill and had cognitive issues and ataxia as well. It affected my brain in various ways.

I have NONE of these symptoms now that my gut is healing and I have been gluten-free for 18 months. I am "me" again. :)

There are many medical articles written about this correlation between gluten, celiac and depression, arising from nutritional deficiencies, the effect of malabsorption on amino acids and neurotransmitters, etc.

You may find these articles of interest. Go to this site and look on the right hand side for articles related to psych issues:

http://sites.google.com/site/jccglutenfree/

You may wish to remain on gluten and have a celiac panel done.

The test will not be valid if you are not actively consuming gluten. Since you feel markedly better off it, I am thinking you are gluten sensitive at least, but you may want to cover your bases and see if celiac is the underlying cause.

I know at least one member on here whose bipolar symptoms are resolved. (I am sure there are others) Maybe she will see this and post.

Best wishes to you!

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My worst symptom is anxiety. It built up and built up until I had what I assume is a nervous breakdown even though I don't know for sure. I had this sense of doom that I was going to die. I focused on it day and night and was scared to fall asleep because I thought I wouldn't wake up. Every time I looked at my young kids I would tear up thinking they would grow up without me. When I finally got diagnosed with a gluten allergy in my mind I had brain tumors, diabetes, cancer, heart attacks, you name it I had it. I finally just lost it one day and cried uncontrolably, I was apologizing to my wife for leaving her to raise two young kids without me, and cried when I saw my 5 year old. About 2 weeks after I went gluten free I was laying in bed and just started breathing deeply and realized how calm I was. It never occured to me that my gluten intolerance would cure my anxiety. Most people say that it is due to malabsorption of vitamins, but the weird thing is that if I accidentally gluten myself now, the first symptom I feel is I get really anxious. It will get better, but 1 year later it still isn't perfect. Hang in there.

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My worst symptom is anxiety. It built up and built up until I had what I assume is a nervous breakdown even though I don't know for sure. I had this sense of doom that I was going to die. I focused on it day and night and was scared to fall asleep because I thought I wouldn't wake up. Every time I looked at my young kids I would tear up thinking they would grow up without me. When I finally got diagnosed with a gluten allergy in my mind I had brain tumors, diabetes, cancer, heart attacks, you name it I had it. I finally just lost it one day and cried uncontrolably, I was apologizing to my wife for leaving her to raise two young kids without me, and cried when I saw my 5 year old. About 2 weeks after I went gluten free I was laying in bed and just started breathing deeply and realized how calm I was. It never occured to me that my gluten intolerance would cure my anxiety. Most people say that it is due to malabsorption of vitamins, but the weird thing is that if I accidentally gluten myself now, the first symptom I feel is I get really anxious. It will get better, but 1 year later it still isn't perfect. Hang in there.

what you describe is very similar to what I went through. My anxiety manifested as an intense social anxiet/shyness and I lost alot of weight and would not leave my house except at night. Having never experienced anything like that before, I began to fear that I was dying because I had lost so much weight. I got through the first episode with the use of ssri medication and recovered. but the next episode a year later was as bad and then I was dx'd. The second treatment was prozac and it 's what saved me. I felt completely normal after taking it a few weeks.

The problem now is that since I don't take the ssri to boost my serotonin, I still struggle in the mornings; getting going, feeling happy to face the world. Its still not easy even though I am gluten free. could it be that I was exposed to gluten for my whole life that the serotonin deficit might always be a problem? any thoughts or comment are greatly encouraged and appreciated...

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I believe that my biggest symptom is anxiety, just like the other posters on this thread. I have been an anxious and worried personality my whole life, but I had gotten it under control and was really doiing well, emotionally and mentally. Then about two years ago I started to feel not quite right, after 6-8 months it developed into a full blown panic/anixety disorder, then it got even worse, and then about 8 months ago I was finally tested for celiac.

It has been 5 months since i started the diet and I have to say that I am feeling quite a bit better, and the anxiety level has gone down from an 11 to maybe a 5-6, but it is still somewhat high. I would love to get it back down to a 2 or 3 (which i feel would be a normal amount, like when I was in good shape a few years ago).

I have to remind myself that this is a major process of healing a very damamged body. It doesn't happen overnight. The problem with an anxiety disorder is that your brain wants to see it fixed right now! if it doesn't get fixed instantly, its just more fodder for the anxiety monster to use against you.

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Welcome Erin!

While I have no idea whether the chicken or the egg came first, I am confident that gluten intolerance / celiac comes before depression and other psychological issues.

It frustrates me to no end that doctors automatically jump to prescribing anti-depressants/mood stabilizers without ever considering food intolerance. Psychological disorders are commonly said to be caused by chemical imbalance - so where is someone supposed to get the neurotransmitters for proper brain function if they are not absorbing essential nutrients from their food in the first place?

It took me decades to figure out that I got depressed after being ill and never got ill because I was depressed! It seems simple but when docs were repeatedly telling me that I was healthy and that my symptoms must be caused by depression, stress, hormones, overworking or simply being a Mom -- eventually part of me believed it...I know that I went several years without going to doctors because I didn't want to hear it - in my gut I knew they were wrong -- and guess what? -- the problem was in my gut all along.

Sorry for the rant, but I know how frustrating it is to know that your life could have taken a different path had you only known that the "healthy" food you were ingesting was causing serious health problems.

I try to focus on the blessings I do have, keep hope for health and all other good things, but some days the frustration cancels all that out.

I am hopeful that you will continue to improve and glad that you found gluten was causing you problems...but please know that it can be a long road to healing so grab onto all the good stuff you can along the way and be good to yourself while you heal.

Hang in there :)

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It took me decades to figure out that I got depressed after being ill and never got ill because I was depressed! It seems simple but when docs were repeatedly telling me that I was healthy and that my symptoms must be caused by depression, stress, hormones, overworking or simply being a Mom -- eventually part of me believed it...I know that I went several years without going to doctors because I didn't want to hear it - in my gut I knew they were wrong -- and guess what? -- the problem was in my gut all along.

This is a great statement. I have been struggling with this a lot. It boils down to the notion of whether or not one believes that the mind can cause such severe psychosomatic pain. I mean, can a fear or worry have such a profound effect on the physical state as to cause damage to the intestines and make us feel all the symptoms of celiac? Or does one believe that the symptoms originate with celiac and the psychological issues are conflated and confused by them?

the theory that the simplest answer is usually the best shows me that it most likely is that celiac is causing the problem, and the psychology is being dragged along for a ride.

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This is a great statement. I have been struggling with this a lot. It boils down to the notion of whether or not one believes that the mind can cause such severe psychosomatic pain. I mean, can a fear or worry have such a profound effect on the physical state as to cause damage to the intestines and make us feel all the symptoms of celiac? Or does one believe that the symptoms originate with celiac and the psychological issues are conflated and confused by them?

the theory that the simplest answer is usually the best shows me that it most likely is that celiac is causing the problem, and the psychology is being dragged along for a ride.

That reminds me of the guff they used to say about stomach ulcers being caused by stress and worry and spicy foods. Totally false as it turns to be a bacteria that causes 90% of them.

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I think you guys might want to walk into a psychiatric ward and ask that question to the residents. Maybe that guy sitting there on the couch? Oh wait, he won't know because he lost most of his memories from ECT. What about that girl in the corner? She looks normal, opps, she still feels the fire burning her from 5 years ago. The list goes on.

Psychiatric disorders have enough stigma attached to them as it is. It is not a "I have Celiac so I got anxiety too"

Celiac and thyroid disease often come together but not always. You still have thyroid disease and still take a med for it. At any rate you don't say, now that I'm celiac everything gets better. But it all doesn't does it?

Mental Illness can be horrific how it presents, or can be abused by a person who has no idea what it is.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor nor do I portray one in a commercial. I do not intend for you to actually walk in to a psych ward as they may keep you. My intention is never to offend but to inform.

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When i get glutened, I get very gloomy and then will often have times of anxiety and aimless anger and irritability. It is a very strange feeling because I am naturally a really layed back and comical person, yet most of my life people thought I was very negative and introverted. The feelings I get are just that, "feelings". I cannot help it. It is almost extrinsic. Even when I am thinking things are good and I just have more learning to do and it will get better and better and I am proud of my progress, somehow I simultaneously have this gut sickening sadness. I just feel gloomy as if there is no reason in the world to be happy and i get helpless feelings like my "flight" hormones are at full force.

Exercise always helps tremendously for me it doesn't matter if it is walking up and down the stairs or even just stretching.

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Colleen-

I guess I mis-typed as I should have wrote that I believe celiac/gluten MAY come before psychological issues.

Unfortunately, I have had to visit two friends, one sister and one brother-in-law in the psychological hospital over the years. My sister has suffered from major depressive disorder which has nearly taken her life 4 times. Bi-polar did take my brother-in-law (my husband's closest brother, my nephew's dad and my kid's uncle) from us. So when I said in my case I knew in my gut that depression was not causing my physical illness I was talking about what was going on with me - not others that may have depression or other physiological issues.

I in no way intended to dismiss any psychological disorders by my beliefs that the lack of nutrition due to mal-absorption CAN lead to a disruption of the neurotransmitters in the brain OR that being stuck in bed for weeks on end with undiagnosed disease/chronic illness can cause depressed mood.

-Lisa

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Colleen-

I guess I mis-typed as I should have wrote that I believe celiac/gluten MAY come before psychological issues.

Unfortunately, I have had to visit two friends, one sister and one brother-in-law in the psychological hospital over the years. My sister has suffered from major depressive disorder which has nearly taken her life 4 times. Bi-polar did take my brother-in-law (my husband's closest brother, my nephew's dad and my kid's uncle) from us. So when I said in my case I knew in my gut that depression was not causing my physical illness I was talking about what was going on with me - not others that may have depression or other physiological issues.

I in no way intended to dismiss any psychological disorders by my beliefs that the lack of nutrition due to mal-absorption CAN lead to a disruption of the neurotransmitters in the brain OR that being stuck in bed for weeks on end with undiagnosed disease/chronic illness can cause depressed mood.

-Lisa

Hi Lisa,

I promise, I didn't mean to get in anyone's face about this. It's a sensitive issue for me as it sounds like for you too. I can appreciate that.

Sometimes I'll read something to my husband while I'm ranting and he calmly takes my playbook from me. It's okay because I do it to him to lol. I met my husband in a psych ward 5 years ago. I was there for a month after a suicide attempt. I was getting a course of ECT treatments and he was outpatient getting ECT's too. We are quite the pair, as you can imagine.

These issues are very difficult whether it's you, your family or friends.

And now I'm off to scarf down some Betty Crocker Brownies :D

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It is SO relieving to hear about these stories of other celiac/gluten intolerance folks who have also struggled with anxiety. Thank you so much for sharing them!

I remember having anxiety attacks as young as 4 years old, as well as hyperactivity and severe temper tantrums. The doctor suggested it was food-related (yay!) but said the cause was actually food coloring additives. Oh well, at least he was on the right track (back in the mid-80's) which it more than I can say for any doctor since. I wondered for years what was wrong with me, and when I was in high school would check out books from the library on all kinds of mental disorders to try and match symptoms with what I felt.

It started out as social anxiety. I couldn't stand being in public places or around strangers. Then it became intense anxiety over every little thing, along with panic attacks. They were always worse during stressful situations, but would sometimes pop up out of nowhere.

When all the other gluten issues got worse as I got older a doctor told me it was all just an manifestation of anxiety, and mostly in my head. So I asked her what could possibly be causing the anxiety, and she just looked at me funny like "You're not supposed to ask that question" and gave me a Xanax prescription. No effort to find a cause, just a pill.

My husband, who isn't gluten intolerant, was once diagnosed with bipolar disorder because he had been feeling out of sorts. He was put on three medications for it, and was so messed up that he was institutionalized twice attempted suicide once. The pills made him feel MORE depressed and MORE disconnected. He finally stopped taking them, saw another doctor, and was diagnosed with PTSD from childhood trauma instead. He was given a small SSRI dose, and now he feels fine almost all the time. I swear these doctors are guessing 99% of the time. They turned a man with mild psychiatric problems into a total wreck.

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I can really appreciate this post from all angles, as I have Celiac (obviously), have struggled with mild anxiety for most of my adolescence and young adult life, and ironically enough am a mental health therapist for children and adolescents. Its interesting, when we're in school doing our clinical training, they ALWAYS teach you that the FIRST rule of diagnosing is RULE OUT MEDICAL CONDITIONS FIRST. If its not an underlying medical condition, then proceed with psychiatric diagnosing. In working with many social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists, I rarely see them looking towards medical conditions when a client comes in with mood or anxiety issues.

Being diagnosed with Celiac has been a fantastic life lesson for me, especially when it comes to my work with clients. In fact, a coworker of mine called me last week to get some advice about a 17 year old female in one of our residential programs who is displaying significant anxiety and is starting to refuse certain meals. My first response? "Have you tested her for food intolerances?" There was a long pause followed by "Huh?" from my coworker. I explained that it might not just be for "attention" but maybe this young lady has some food intolerances which is making her feel sick and causing her to avoid certain foods. After we rule this stuff out, then we can look at what might be behind her behaviors. And the kicker was the response, "So does this mean that I should get nursing staff involved??" "YES!!!!"

Whether the Celiac or the anxiety came first, both are very real, and very frustrating. Hang in there! I hope it gets better!!!

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I'm really happy for you Erin. I am a completely different person on gluten also. I attribute a lot of it to nervous system inflammation.. that "gluten head" that was mentioned. When I eat gluten i'm transported into a nearly psychotic type of world. Perception disturbances, a feeling that all visual and auditory things are going to morph at any second along with paranoia, panic attacks, motor skill problems, memory loss, random crying, sense of doom, a complete inability to relate to the energy of other people. It's like the energy of other people look more like monsters coming out of the object of a body, than a human being. I also become rather mute, i'm not sure why, it's like something that happens in my brain allows me to have dark emotions but no thoughts. So throughout childhood, I was rather mute. That changed amazingly when I cut out gluten and suddenly I talk too much at times and have opinions. I still have depression, but the world around me doesn't look dark and scary, and there is no intensity of panic attached to my depression.

I would really love if there was more research done on the effects of gluten on the brain and nervous system. also adrenal glands.

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Of all the doctors I talked to about being diagnosed for celiac, all of them said I should see a mental health professional first, before testing.

Then I got my positive blood test results back and they changed their tune.

Erin80, everything you've written is also my experience. I turned 35 a few days after diagnosis. So my youth was spent with gluten; the rest is my time.

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      Thank  you Flowerqueen and Cristiana for your replies. I'm actually feeling much better today. I got my appetite back yesterday lunchtime (a few hours after I typed the original post) and managed to keep in/hold down some chicken and lettuce!!! I also had a "fat" coffee (as I call it) before work with MCT Oil and butter (your probably going "yuk" right now but it's really nice...really haha) and started feeling a bit better after that. The nausea went away almost immediately after that although just the thought of having all that fat nearly made me sick but I just wanted to get back to normal asap. I usually have a lot of fat in my diet anyway which is normal for me so the coffee choice isn't unusual. Plus it was also the third day which was when I started feeling better after the first time. I didn't eat til lunchtime and I was good and hungry by then so I knew I was coming out of it. That nausea and trembling feeling is something I don't want ever again. I think after the workout and tearing down muscle tissue (which is a form of stress) and then not being able to hold the nutrients in for repair affected my nervous system. My theory only but to me it makes sense. Although Vitargo also comes in flavors I always get the Natural / Unflavored one so the barley is the only ingredient. As for there being something wrong with that particular batch, well, you be on to something there. Also I'm not knocking the product because as I said, I have used it before and it did exactly what it was supposed to do. But, I will never have it again. Cristiana, my last blood test revealed I had slight anaemia which really surprised me with the amount of red meat I've eaten during my life and the anxiety thing is also new as I'm usually a happy, positive person. Life is good but after this recent reaction I think it is an indirect cause of the glutening. I'm also surprised at how sensitive I've become to it and how quickly. Also what is DX? I also follow a FODMAP eating plan (I can give you more info if you haven't heard of it) which also eliminates certain foods. It's a plan directed mostly at IBS but is well worth looking into if you are suffering any gut health, digestion issues or any ailment you may have which you can't get to the bottom of. Broccoli was one of the foods which I have cut back on and I've eaten HUGE amounts of broccoli so it is a superfood for some but apparently not for others. (I even think I read somewhere it has MSG naturally in it) It's hard to find any bad articles on broccoli so this also really surprised me. It also answered a few other questions I had. Many, many thanks again to you both for your replies. It actually settled me just reading them. I'm glad I found these forums so I don't think i'll be a stranger around here for long.   Richard
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