Depression and anxiety higher in people with Celiac disease

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Research shows that people with celiac disease and other inflammatory conditions have a higher rate of anxiety and depression than others.

A recent German study carried out by researchers W. Häuser et al of the Department of Internal Medicine of the Klinikum Saarbrücken in Germany is the first research showing that women in particular, who are suffering from celiac disease, are more likely to experience depression and anxiety than the rest of the general population.

The researchers used the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale to measure levels of anxiety and depression in 441 adults with celiac disease. They also measured anxiety and depression levels in 235 people with inflammatory bowel disease and 441 adults from the general population.

What they found was that the patients with celiac disease and those with inflammatory bowel disease had higher levels of depression and anxiety than those in the general population, but in particular, women with celiac disease.

The researchers concluded that women with celiac disease following a gluten free diet should be screened for anxiety.

The link between celiac disease and depression has already been well established by many previous studies but the underlying reasons why aren’t really that well understood. Although Celiac disease is classed as an auto immune condition, it is also a malabsorption condition because when the body ingests gluten, it cannot absorb certain nutrients. Some research has pointed to a lack of Vitamin B in the diet, particularly vitamin B6 as why people with celiac disease suffer from depression.

The question is, if you have celiac disease and follow a strict gluten free diet will it help ease depression in people with celiac disease. The answer is not quite so simple.

A Swedish study involving 13,000 people with celiac disease found a higher rate of depression in people who were gluten free but were not able to identify any particular reason for this.

One reason why celiacs following a gluten free diet may suffer from depression is that the dietary restrictions placed on people with celiac disease may cause anxiety and actually lead to depression.

Another explanation is that people who are sensitive to gluten and following a gluten free diet may be ingesting gluten without realising it so should be meticulous about checking labels and be aware of foods in which gluten may be hidden such as soy sauce, some stock cubes, curry powders, alcoholic drinks, and even play dough and some lipsticks.

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