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  • Jefferson Adams

    Does Celiac Disease Cause Brain Damage, Depression and Suicidal Tendencies?

    Jefferson Adams
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    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.   eNewsletter: Get our eNewsletter

      A population study assesses cognitive deficit and white matter changes in people with celiac disease.

    Does Celiac Disease Cause Brain Damage, Depression and Suicidal Tendencies?
    Caption: Nooses hanging from rafters. Image: CC BY-SA 2.0--Brett L.

    Celiac.com 03/18/2020 - Researchers are still debating the extent to which celiac disease might cause brain damage. Some research has indicated that celiac disease can trigger changes to brain white matter, among other potential issues.

    A team of researchers recently set out to validate previous reports, we investigated the prevalence of neuropsychological dysfunction in persons with celiac disease included in the National UK Biobank, which contains experimental medical data from 500,000 adults in the United Kingdom.

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    The research team included I.D. Croall, D.S. Sanders, M. Hadjivassiliou, and N. Hoggard. They are variously affiliated with the University of Sheffield, Academic Unit of Radiology; the Academic Unit of Gastroenterology; and the Department of Neurology at Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield, United Kingdom.

    The team matched 104 otherwise healthy celiac disease patients with 198 healthy individuals controls, closely matched for age, sex, level of education, body mass index, and diagnosis of hypertension. The researchers then compared scores from five cognitive tests, and multiple-choice responses to six questions about mental health, between groups using t test and χ2 analyses. 

    Group analyses of magnetic resonance imaging brain data included a study of diffusion tensor imaging metrics (mean diffusivity, fractional anisotropy, radial diffusivity, axial diffusivity), voxel-based morphometry, and Mann-Whitney U comparisons of Fazekas grades.

    Compared to the control subjects, celiac disease patients showed substantially slower reaction times, and markedly higher rates of anxiety, depression, thoughts of self-harm, and health-related unhappiness. 

    Tract-based spatial statistical analysis showed sharply higher axial diffusivity in widespread locations, which shows that white matter changes in brains of people with celiac disease. Voxel-based morphometry and Fazekas grade analyses were similar between the groups.

    Brain imaging shows that celiac disease patients suffer from cognitive deficit, changes to brain white matter, and reduced mental health, which support the notion that celiac disease is associated with both neurological and psychological features.

    Read more in Gastroenterology

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    I am not surprised since multi-system disorders appear to go hand-in-hand with celiac. E.G.  celiac disease-associated hyposplenism and increased porosity of teeth with enamel loss. Then the overall tendency for malabsorbtive diseases. Since the onset of my celiac I have suffered malnutrition which led to hyperparathyroidism with its many systems disfunction. Finally suffered double vision and nystagmus (rapid right to left movement) just prior to surgery. Cracking of teeth and tooth loss & areas of missing enamel has been upsetting. Getting doctors/dentists to understand is next to impossible. Had to delete lectins and tried an herbal combo that was supper in stabilizing the disease & increased my cognitive function. It was too good to believe the mental acuity totally changed. But, one of the herbals injured kidney function, so had to go off it and returned to my mild cognitive difficulties.  My significant other had to eat low carb. I added to the list of things that are undigestible: yeast, egg, flavorings, preservatives, flower & seed oils plus other toxins. Feel good limiting carbs actually. Benefit of slow weight loss is good. And to think none of this was necessary. Can't turn the clock back now. One more note, hyperparathyroidism brought with it encephalopathy. It was damaging in many ways. Lucky to be alive! 


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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,500 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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