Gluten And Anxiety


Defeat the wheat!!

The worst symptom of being glutened in my case is anxiety. If I accidentally eat gluten I become more anxious than usual and I develop heart palpitations/skipped beats which absolutely terrifies me.

Unfortunately anxiety is a feeling I’m more than familiar with. I’ve had periods in my life when I’ve suffered from major periods of anxiety and panic attacks and these (I think) were completely unrelated to gluten. I am lucky to have found ways of managing this anxiety and I haven’t suffered a full blown panic attack in a long time.

Back to the present and at first I wondered if I was feeling anxious about the fact that I knew I had been glutened. But then I realised my feelings of anxiety and my palpitations/skipped beats were some of the first signs of my being glutened. I was feeling anxious before I even realised I had eaten gluten.

Is anxiety a symptom of celiac disease?

Yes. A number of sources talk about anxiety, as well as depression, as a symptom of undiagnosed celiac disease. Nutritional deficiencies and malnutrition may contribute to anxiety in celiacs due to possible intestinal damage which prevents us from absorbing the nutrients we need. This sounds logical.

But how about when we are diagnosed, healed and following a strict gluten free diet?

Anxiety is a common topic on gluten free and celiac forums. Many celiacs say that they feel extremely anxious after accidentally eating gluten and some even mention palpitations. As with all of these things it’s nice to hear I’m not alone in this.

Almost every time I accidentally get glutened I suffer from anxiety and palpitations. How about you? Is anxiety one of your signs of being glutened? Do you suffer from palpitations or skipped beats as a result? Does anyone know why this seems to be happening to so many of us and is there anything we can we do to stop it?

Please share your experiences in the comments below..

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  • I also suffer from heart palpitations, skipped beats, anxiety and the oh so horrible single strong hard heart beat that is just thrown in the middle of what appears to be a normal heart rhythm. I get this even more when I accidentally consume gluten. I also find that too much coffee or stress can bring these symptoms on so I try to limit my exposure to those.

  • I also get very anxious soon after eating gluten. It makes even the most insignificant decisions difficult! It’s a really frustrating and new experience for me because, fortunately, I have not had to deal with non-gluten related anxiety. Honestly, being anxious is one of the most difficult symptoms for me to deal with. It definitely helps to hear from others with similar experiences. Thanks for the forum GF Traveller!!

  • Want to hear something interesting? I was a test patient for the Celiac drug AT-1001. I had no way of knowing if I had thetest drug + gluten caps, or a placebo + gluten caps. They monitored by bowel habits and intestinal lining during the trial. The only thing I noticed? A DRAMATIC increase in anxiety (and I wasn’t nervous about possibly ingesting gluten, even though maybe I should’ve been.) I reported the anxiety to the test people, and they didn’t even write it down! So YES, I think gluten causes anxiety. I’ve had it all my life, and it did lessen after going GF, but hasn’t gone away completely.
    And as Kim said, caffeine also contributes to palpitations and anxiety, so I try to steer clear of those too.

  • I hadn’t correlated the anxiety I feel with ingestion of gluten. But thinking back on it, anxiety does seem to rear its ugly head more so when I’ve accidentally ingested gluten. And as you said, it occurs before I am aware that I’ve consumed it. I do experience anxiety from other things, but when I have accidentally consumed gluten it certainly is worse. This is very interesting to me! Thanks for posting!

  • I wonder if it has something to do with the distention? I took pantoprazole for reflux and my ectopic heartbeats increased in frequency as did my bouts of palpitations and the reason I was given was that it was something to do with the drug causing excess gas, making my stomach push upwards slightly onto my heart. I would imagine distention could do something similar?

  • This is fascinating. I’m just coming through a period of intense anxiety and panic attacks, unrelated to gluten. But now you’ve got me thinking about the link between the two. Perhaps I’m predisposed to be anxious these days, but I don’t usually get symptoms of being glutened, yet this week I know I’ve eaten it (by mistake) and I feel more anxious. Having said that, who knows what is psychosomatic and what isn’t? The whole anxiety thing feels like a minefield to me. I also have palpitations and they absolutely terrify me. In fact, they are the only thing now (having dealt with the original cause of my panic attacks) that can trigger a panic attack! It’s all a bit “chicken and egg”. I’d love to know the exact science behind why we suddenly develop strange heartbeats after eating gluten. Is it also something to do with adrenaline?

  • Thanks so much for sharing your experiences. It’s always nice to hear you’re not alone when it comes to these bizarre symptoms. Also, your responses are all so interesting that it gives us more to think about!

    Kim, the strange , strong beat that you talk about – I get that too and it’s very frightening!

    Julie, how interesting! How long was the trial? I’m assuming you never get to find out whether you had the drug or the placebo?

  • I just had similar strong heart palpitations when I was on vacation in Maine. I was being very careful to eat gluten free, but I may have had something. Fortunately, it just happened once, but I have had problems with anxiety also. I was diagnosed about a year ago and it is scary how many ways Celiac can affect your health besides GI issues. I just read something that your chance of getting intestinal cancer goes down dramatically if you don’t get it in the first year after being diagnosed. That doesn’t make me feel less worried about health issues.

  • I’ve had issues with anxiety and heart rhythm for years, but never thought it could be related to my gluten intolerance! Thanks so much for bringing this up – I’ll be doing some more research now!

  • Hi Laura- I didn’t see your question before. The trial was 12 weeks, and no, they wouldn’t tell me if I had the drug or not. She said she couldn’t tell me until the testing was completely done. I believe it’s been almost 2 years now and I still haven’t heard . I still can’t believe they wouldn’t write it down. I guess our mental health doesn’t matter. 🙁

  • I get heart palpitations/skipped beats every time after a glutening. It can go on for a day or two and is really unsettling, and I find it affects my sleep too. One of the worst symptoms for me.

  • I also have a gluten intolerance. these strange, strong, single heartbeats may actually be a esophageal spasm. What you describe reminds me of something I occasionally experience. I also thought it was a very strong heart beat; my doctor evaluated me, found my heart in good health and believed it was my esophagus spasming. It is a strong surge in the middle of the chest.

  • Jill F

    Mar 9th, 2013

    Yes anxiety and palpitations are early symptoms of being glutened for me too. Also rage at what would normally be very minor irritations and weepiness. Generally incapacitating emotional distress. I have to just go to bed and sleep it off and avoid interactions as I get so unreasonable. The stomach ache comes hours later or even the next day.

  • Yes! Before I went completely gluten free I had what I called ‘attacks’ during the night. Shaking, teeth chattering, heart palpitating, sweating, followed by a few bowel evacuations before a welcomed calm.

    I haven’t had one of these dramatic episodes in a long while but I regularly experience an elevated heart rate. I regularly experience anxiety and have often wondered if I’ve been contaminated with gluten as the cause.

    How interesting is it that we’ve all had this! WHAT have they done to us, these money hungry food corporations?

    Have you all also noticed the alarming rate of increase lately? Everyone seems to know someone who is affected by gluten now and it seems like all the large food companies feel they have to offer non wheat alternatives.
    It’s so FREAKY when you think about it. Is this all from GMO? I keep wondering. Nano particles ….. what is this, Star Trek? Jeepers!

  • It’s certainly interesting to see that so many of us are suffering from this problem when were are accidentally glutened!

    Does anyone know the medical reason why this would be happening? Why would gluten leave us with a strange heart rhythm? I mentioned that I suffer from this the last time I was at my doctor. She didn’t seem very concerned but she also didn’t offer me a reason or a solution. It sure is freaky, Roanna!

  • Hello these symtoms of anxiety, palpatations and the esophageal spasm I have suffered from. Once I was diagnosed with ceoliac disease and went gluten free I no longer get unrelated anxiety . My heart rate is settled. I do not have the esophageal spasm. Pre diagnosis I was 100% convinced that when I ate certain foods my body changed reacted. I think gluten does cause the anxiety and heart symptoms. Glad to hear other people have felt like this just thought it was me.

  • Pre diagnosis I have suffered the esopahgeal spasm the palpatations and anxiety when eating gluten foods. Since no gluten everything has settled down. I think it has all been related to gluten. Glad to hear other people have had these problems thought it was just me.

  • Me too! That’s actually a new symptom of getting glutened for me (I’ve been GF for three years). The last two times I’ve been glutened, the first symptom I’ve experienced is sudden anxiety – very panicky feeling, tightness in my chest, shortness of breath… As always, I’m not happy that other people deal with this too, but happy that I’m not alone.

  • I have anxiety when I go out to eat in a restaurant, It’s gets so bad I had to stop eating out. I’ve been glutened so many times I just can’t take the risk.

  • Thank you so much for this website. I’m newly diagnosed and learning the ropes. I keep making mistakes, and when I do, I wake in the middle of the night with my heart racing and my breathing going “ten to the dozen”. It’s always accompanied by lower abdominal pain.

    I usually get up, have a drink of hot water, and wait for it to ease, (which I’m doing now) x

  • I’m a newcomer to your blog, so please pardon the late response. Raging anxiety and palpitations were my first symptoms of celiac three years ago. I had my heart thoroughly checked out and declared normal but the anxiety continued. It took 18 months and three misdiagnoses of “bad menopause”, IBS and stress before a G.I. ordered and endoscopy and diagnosed celiac on 10/11/12. The palpitations stopped almost immediately upon going gluten-free but the anxiety remained as I read more about the disease and related complications. Eighteen months into the gluten-free diet, the anxiety has eased somewhat but it’s the first thing to ramp up when I’ve been accidentally glutened. And I still worry incessantly (perhaps more than is healthy) about developing complications down the road despite being strictly gluten-free. I have never cheated, and never will, but accidental glutenings awaken the fears all over again. Thanks for pointing out the gluten/anxiety connection.

  • Mona Townsend

    Jun 25th, 2014

    This sounds like a repeat of my life. Heart palpitations in 2004 led me to first to the ER and then a cardiologist. After many tests, my heart was determined to be fine. After diagnosis of Celiac (without biopsy), I went gluten-free. Although I felt better I still had spells of extremely high blood pressure (many times requiring hospitalization or ER), I was told I was B12 and D3 deficient. Most of these spells occurred after being glutened. After Celiac diagnosis, why isn’t it standard to test for deficiencies? My Brother was almost debilitated with a fib. I spoke to his cardiologist, explained the Celiac. He said “not possible–gluten can not cause heart palpitation or a fib”. I guess you can’t treat old dogs new tricks. Too bad, huh?

  • myra elsdon

    Oct 22nd, 2014

    Just looking for answers…first site I think relates to my problem. Never had a heart palp till peri menopause 4 years ago. Always with a period so put down to iron def as I am vego. Periods finished a year ago 56 and no more big heart palp episodes ( lie down for 2/3 hours) but now replaced with smaller ones where I feel warm, heart races and sense of weakness ( must sit down) but lasts only seconds then you can actually feel it abate like a warm pooling in the legs ( Like you have wet yourself but you haven’t thank god!!) Seems to relate to eating and yes on looking back eating something with gluten ( cafes etc) Been through everything I’ve done, eaten and decided to go GF and has been much better. Only this year but went on a road trip for 3 weeks very strict GF and only 2 episodes. So I think there is a link and there is a gluten intolerance which is menopause related ( I’ve read) so will be super strict and record it from now on. Thanks for this site, been very helpful.

  • I was diagnosed as gluten intolerant with possible mild Crohn’s Disease. I had a negative blood test for Coeliac Disease but have not had a biopsy. I have had dreadful heart palpitations/skipped beats, which reoccur from time to time. I also had Lyme Disease. I think it is quite likely that deficiencies due to Coeliac Disease/gluten intolerance could lead to palpitations.

  • Caireen

    Apr 30th, 2015

    It’s interesting tonread this and the comments as I an currently very suspicious that I have been glutened whilst eating out recently. The fatigue (right through to core of me) is the worst, along with the brain fog. But I also spent the weekend feeling like an anxious mess. My clue is that it feels like I am an observer looking at myself whilst I’m struggling to cope with the brain fog, tiredness and tears. The feeling of it not being “me” makes me think that the cause is less emotional stress and far more likely to be gluten. Eating gluten really does make me feel like I’ve been possessed by some mysterious thing, and it takes me a really long time to heal.