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Woman's Psychotic Delusions Caused by Gluten and Undiagnosed Celiac Disease


Doctor say woman's psychotic delusions caused by celiac disease, adverse gluten reactions. Photo: CC-- new 1lluminati

Celiac.com 07/21/2016 - Celiac disease is a condition that can sometimes have vague symptoms, including mental and neurological symptoms, and that can make it hard to diagnose. Sometimes, individual cases can help to shed light on the serious nature of celiac disease, as well as the importance of a gluten-free diet in treatment. Consider the case of a 37-year-old Ph.D. candidate began to suffer from mysterious delusions, details of which appear in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The doctors who treated her wrote that the woman, who was otherwise healthy and seemingly normal, had begun to believe that friends, family members and even strangers were conspiring to act out scenes for her in a what the woman thought was some kind of "game."

The delusions got so bad that the woman began making threats against her family, and was admitted to a psychiatric hospital and was diagnosed with a psychotic disorder, according to the report. The doctors prescribed anti-psychotic medications, which, they wrote, did not work very well. However, during her stay, they did notice that she had several vitamin and mineral deficiencies, had lost a lot of weight and also had thyroid problems, according to the report.

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Noting the symptoms, the doctors began to suspect celiac disease, said Dr. Alessio Fasano, director of the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and one of the doctors who treated the woman. When the doctors confirmed celiac disease, the woman refused to go on a gluten-free diet, because she was still suffering delusions and believed the doctors to be actively deceiving her about having celiac disease.

In this case, the woman lost her job, became homeless and even attempted suicide before she was finally re-hospitalized at a psychiatric facility, where she was successfully placed on a gluten-free diet, where she improved tremendously. She came to understand that a reaction to gluten had triggered her symptoms and caused her life to spin out of control, said Dr. Fasano, and she wanted people to understand that her strange behavior was due to the gluten reaction.

The woman's case is not typical, to be sure, but it highlights the sometimes sneaky ways celiac disease can manifest, the serious health impacts celiac disease can have, and the importance of adopting a gluten-free diet.

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2 Responses:

 
Pippy
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said this on
26 Jul 2016 7:45:34 AM PDT
I had similar things happening to my brain, but it still went undiagnosed for many years to follow. I was put in the mental ward many times and never was I tested for CD; my faith in the medical community is completely gone. This blog and others are what keep me going. Thank you for all your footwork.

 
Barbie
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said this on
26 Jul 2016 11:12:08 AM PDT
I believe undiagnosed celiac disease made me Bi-Polar, as it all happened at the time just before I was diagnosed. Yes, I need medication and the doctors cannot absolutely confirm it, but yes, celiac can mimic Bi-Polar, but you still need meds.




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I am very interested in this too. My daughter tested negative for celiac, but has terrible primarily neurological symptoms. Because she tested positive for SIBO at the time and was having some GI symptoms, I was told it was just a Fodmap issue. I knew better and we have been gluten free for 2 years. Fast forward to this February. She had a SIBO recurrence that I treated at home with diet and herbal antibiotics because I couldn't get the insurance referral. She was doing great. Then stupid me brought in gluten containing chick feed for the new baby chicks we got. Feed dust everywhere. Total mess. Really, no GI symptoms (she was SIBO free by then)...but the neurological symptoms! my daughter couldn't walk for three days. Burning down one leg, nerve pain in the foot. Also heaviness of limbs, headache and fatigue. Better after three days. But unfortunately she had a TINY gluten exposure at that three day mark and had another severe reaction: loss of balance, loss of feeling in her back and arms, couldn't see for a few seconds, and three days of hand numbness, fatigue, concentration problems. Well, I actually contacted Dr. Hadjivassilou by email and he confirmed that the symptoms are consistent with gluten ataxia but any testing would require a gluten challenge. Even with these exposures, antibodies would not be high enough. His suggestion was maintain vigilance gluten free. I just saw my daughter's GI at U of C and she really only recognizes celiac disease and neurological complications of that. But my impression is that gluten ataxia is another branch in the autoimmune side of things (with celiac and DH being the other two). At this point, I know a diagnosis is important. But I don't know how to get there. We homeschool right now so I can give her time to heal when she is accidentally glutened, I can keep my home safe for her (ugh, that I didn't think of the chicken feed!) But at some point, she is going to be in college, needing to take exams, and totally incapacitated because of an exposure. And doctors state side that are worth seeing? Who is looking at gluten ataxia in the US?

Caro..............monitoring only the TSH to gauge thyroid function is what endo's do who don' t do a good job of managing thyroid disease. They should do the full panel and check the actual thyroid hormone numbers.........T3 and T4. The importance of the TSH comes second to hormone levels. In order to track how severely the thyroid is under attack, you need to track antibody levels.......not the TSH. I did not stay with endocrinologists because I found they did not do a very good job and found much greater help and results with a functional medicine MD. You should not have a goiter if your thyroid is functioning well and your TSH is "normal". Maybe they should do a full panel? Going gluten free can have a profound affect for the better on thyroid function and that is something that is becoming more and more accepted today. Ask most people with Celiac and thyroid disease and they will tell you that. My thyroid never functioned well or was under control under after I discovered I had Celiac and went gluten free. It was the only way I got my antibody numbers back down close to normal and they were around 1200 when it was diagnosed with Celiac. I was diagnosed with Hashi's long before the Celiac diagnosis. I am not sure Vitamin D has anything to do with thyroid antibodies but who knows? Maybe it does have an affect for the better. It is really hard to get Vitmain D levels up, depending on where you live. Mine are going up, slowly, even after 12 years gluten-free but I live in the Northeast in the US and we don't have sun levels like they do in the South. I take 5,000 IU daily and that is a safe level to take, believe it or not. I get no sun on my job so the large dose it is! Having Celiac Disease should not stop you from being able to travel, especially S. America. I travel, although I do agree that some countries might be very difficult to be gluten free in. You can be a foodie and travel with Celiac so no worries on that front. You may not be able to sample from someone else's plate, unless they are eating gluten-free too but I have had awesome experiences with food when traveling so you can too!

I don't know what you drank or where.... so here are a few thoughts. - sure, a dive bar might have dirty glasses and serve a cocktail in a beer glass? But a nice reminder place, with a dishwasher, should be fine. If it's a sketchy place, Stick to wine, then it's served in wine glasses that aren't used for beer or bottled ciders in the bottle. - ciders on tap might, just a slight chance, have an issue. Because of beer on tap, mixed up lines, etc. - you may have a problem with alcohol - you may have issues with The high sugar content of the drink. I know I have similar issues if I drink serveral ciders of extra sugary brands - are you positive it was a gluten-free drink? Not this " redds Apple" pretending to be a cider - it's beer with apple flavor. Or one of those " gluten removed " beers?

Hi Stephanie, I'm also from the UK, I've found this site more helpful than anything we have! As already mentioned above, in my experience it could depend on what and where you were drinking. Gluten free food and drink isn't always (not usually) 100% gluten free as you may know, maybe you have become more sensitive to even a trace of gluten that is probably in gluten free food/drink. Is it possible you have a problem with corn, particularly high fructose corn syrup that is in a lot of alcoholic drinks? This was a big problem for me and the only alcoholic drinks I can tolerate are William Chase vodka and gin. I contacted the company last year and all their drinks are 100% gluten and corn free, made the old fashioned way with no additives, so maybe try their products if you like the occasional drink and see how you get on. If you drink out, not many pubs sell their products but I know Wetherspoons do and smaller wine bars may too. l was never a spirit drinker but I must say their products are absolutely lovely! Very easy on a compromised gut too considering it's alcohol. I second the suggestion on seeing a natural health practitioner. I've recently started seeing a medical herbalist, as I've got nowhere with my now many food intolerances since going gluten free last year and I've noticed a difference in my health already.

Sorry for the very late reply and thanks for the replies, I didn't get a notification of any. In case anyone else comes across this and has been wondering the same as I was, I did try a vegetable broth and I did react to it in the same way as if I'd eaten the vegetables. As for the candida, I've been using coconut oil and am seeing a medical herbalist for this and leaky gut. It's only been a few weeks but I've noticed an improvement all round.