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    Do you have questions about celiac disease or the gluten-free diet?

chrissy

Depressed Teen

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one of my twins seems really depressed. she hardly ever smiles, she doesn't eat alot and is as thin as a rail, she says she doesn't enjoy anything anymore and that she doesn't like to be around people. the ped gi told me we need to address the depression now, rather than wait to see if the diet will turn things around. he says that depression in a celiac teen is one of the things that will keep them from eating good. i talked to her about seeing the family doc for depression, but she says she is not depressed. she seems irritated if we say anything to her about this. i am afraid if i push this too much it will turn into a power struggle and only make things worse. any suggestions?

christine

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Maybe she really isn't depressed. I know I went though phases like that and still sometimes do. However, since you feel strongly about this take her to see a therapist. It is good for her, at a younger age, to learn that it is okay to talk to someone when healthy or depressed. After being diagnosed with Celiac Disease in High School) I went to a therapist and he really helped.

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You might want to let her know that you can have depression without actually feeling like you're "depressed" emotionally. There are physical aspects to depression, even without celiac disease. Being tired, losing your appetite and just being disinterested in things can be aspects of depression even if you're perfectly happy and nothing is wrong. Depression runs in my family, and there have been several times in my life where I was totally fine emotionally, but just completely disinterested in doing anything, no appetite and exhausted beyond belief. Now that I know about gluten intolerance, I think that was an aspect, but still, it's a consideration.

I would wonder if maybe there is some hidden gluten getting in -- cosmetics and other hair/beauty products. You didn't mention how old she was, but if she's an older teen and dating, she might be getting some cross-contamination of gluten from a boyfriend while kissing.

She might also be leery of talking to someone because she may not want to go on meds. Some people assume that all therapists do is hand out medication. (My 36yo husband thought that at one point.)

I agree too that it could be a perfectly normal phase. I know when I was a teen, I never really had any drama or trauma, but I was quiet, didn't do much and NEVER talked to my parents about anything. Even with all my parents may have been worried about, I had great friends, never got into anything that my parents would need to be worried about like smoking or drinking or anything like that. I had great teen years, even though it may have looked differently on the outside.

You know, ideally, I think everyone should have a therapist to talk to on a regular basis. Whether the worst thing that happened to you that week was something really significant and painful, or just the fact that your mom won't get off your back and she thinks you're depressed when you're not ( ;) just kidding, but you know what I mean... ) it's nice to be able to just talk about whatever is going on. That way, if something bad or painful DOES happen, you already have a trained professional who knows you, knows your history, and can help you through it. You don't have to jump in and trust a stranger right after a big trauma.

The classic time interval for therapy we always hear about is once a week, but most therapists will work with whatever you need. Maybe you could get her to go once a month. If it turns out she needs more than that, she may start to be comfortable enough to let you or the therapist know. If she doesn't need more than that, it will at least give her an outlet for whatever normal stress or aggravation that happens in everybody's life.

And if she doesn't like the therapist you start out with, get another one. Therapists are trained in emotions, connections and relationships, and they of all people know that not everybody hits it off with a person, and won't be offended if you want to find someone else. You may go through several until you find someone she likes.

Just my .02.

:)

Nancy

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today when my daughter packed her lunch she took 1 rice cake, some cheetos, and 1 cookie. she says she just isn't interested in food. she is 14 1/2 years old.(9th grade) her twin sister keeps worrying about her and has told me that even one of her friends has said something. i have battles anxiety and depression for years, my oldest son has horrible problems with it, and my 16 year old cuts himself when he is frustrated and angry------depression runs in my family.

christine

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I've got all sorts of mental health issues on both sides of my family too; depression, anxiety, bipolar, paranoia, schizophrenia...

Have you maybe thought about everyone in your family at least trying the gluten-free diet for a while to see if it helps?

My symptoms of being glutened are almost all psychological and neurological. Depression, anxiety, exhaustion, insomnia, nightmares... well, read my signature. It's horrible. The worst part of my gluten reaction is PAIN . My whole body just gets the worst pain. It's like all my muscles in my neck, shoulders, back and hips are cramping up at the same time. It's the worst in my hips. The muscles contort so badly that my legs twist and my feet point outward and I start walking funny. It's bizarre. And it's all from gluten.

I'm not sure how much you've read here about the different aspects of gluten sensitivity, but it's not just celiac. Some people who have really intense problems with gluten actually DON'T have celiac. (Meaning they don't have the intestinal damage that equals celiac.)

So if you haven't done a trial run to see if there are other people in the family who may benefit by being gluten free, I would really recommend it. Personally, when I tried the gluten-free diet, it was just a matter of a couple of days, and there was such a change that I couldn't even stand the thought of putting gluten in my mouth because it made me feel so awful.

Nancy

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I would suggest having her see a counselor, she may need someone to talk to, and the counselor may be able to help her see a need to get help for her depression. I know that when I was that age I didn't want to listen to my parents, esp. when I was depressed, seeing a person who is "outside the situation" may be very helpful. You might point out to her that depression can be a biological thing, it can be caused by physical factors and it's not her fault, she might need medicine for it, just like she would if she had diabetes or something. There is a big fear that if you get treated for depression that you will be labeled mentally ill, or that people will think you are weak or something, make sure she knows that whatever she talks about with her counselor will never ever get back to you, only if she is having thoughts of hurting herself can her counselor tell you, and then she can' t get into specifics, also reassure her that her medical history will be confedentcial with you too, if she needs to be on antidepressants that you can keep it on the down-low and only minimal people need to know (like you, your husband, and her doctor)

hope I helped.

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