Is there a link between celiac disease or gluten intolerance and depression? Almost certainly, but what is the link? In some cases a period of depression may be what triggers your celiac genes to turn on but how about if the celiac comes first? Could depression be a symptom of celiac disease?
There have been various studies done which suggest a strong link between celiac disease and depression, and not only because celiacs may become depressed as a result of having a condition which doesn’t allow then to eat as freely as they used to.
Celiac disease is most often associated with nasty gastrointestinal issues. I speak to many people who assume that because they aren’t bloated and don’t have diarrhea that they can’t possibly have celiac disease. This is not true! Celiac disease can manifest itself in so many different ways, some of them silent, and some of them psychological, like depression. There are many articles out there on this subject but recently I came across an extremely interesting one in Psychology Today. It talks about the link between depression and celiac disease, often caused by the malabsorption as a result of intestinal damage.
The intestinal damage that occurs in undiagnosed celiac disease, especially when misdiagnosed for a long period of time, can prevent the absorption of essential nutrients that keep the brain healthy. These nutrients, particularly zinc, are important for the production of essential chemicals in the brain such as serotonin, a deficiency of which we often hear about being linked to mood and depression.
I’ve often thought that my celiac disease was triggered after a period of depression and anxiety. It was during this period in my life when I started developing more of the obvious celiac symptoms which in turn led to my diagnosis. But perhaps I have it all wrong; perhaps I have it the wrong way round. What if I was depressed because my body wasn’t absorbing the nutrients I needed? What if my depression wasn’t the trigger at all but rather a symptom?
Perhaps like many other symptoms, depression is another one where doctors should consider looking at celiac disease as a possible trigger. Celiac disease does not only result in symptoms such as gas, bloating, diarrhea and fatigue, it can cause depression and anxiety too and these can often be much worse than the gastrointestinal stuff!
If you have suffered from depression, do you think it triggered your celiac disease or was a symptom of it? How has being on a gluten free diet helped with your depression?