Gluten-Free Simplicity

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Celiac Disease and Depression: A Dramatic Tango

Posted by nepeht on October 20, 2008

  Celiac Disease and Depression seem to be present in many of the same people.  Although mental illness and/or its symptoms are still widely misunderstood and even sometimes punished in our culture, there is no proof that either persons with Celiac Disease or persons with Depression should be ashamed of their conditions.

  This is a particularly pressing point when one considers that many of us struggle with the symptoms of both diseases / disorders every day.

  According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, the Symptoms of Depression include:

  • Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Overeating, or appetite loss
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment

  According to the Celiac Sprue Association, the Emotional State / Symptoms of Celiac Disease for a patient can be/include:

  • Depression
  • Disinterested in normal activities
  • Irritable
  • Mood changes
  • Unable to concentrate

  According to the Celiac Sprue Association, Physical Symptoms of Celiac Disease include:

  • Abdominal cramping/bloating
  • Feet (Reduced fat padding)
  • Abdominal distention
  • Flatus (Passing gas)
  • Acidosis
  • Gluten ataxia
  • Appetite (Increased to the point of craving)
  • Mouth sores or cracks in the corners
  • Back pain (Such as a result of collapsed lumbar vertebrae)
  • Muscle cramping (Especially in the hands and legs)
  • Constipation
  • Night blindness
  • Decreased ability to clot blood
  • Skin (Very dry)
  • Dehydration
  • Stools (Loose? Hard? Small? Large? Foul smelling? Floating? Clay, Light tan or Gray-colored? Highly rancid? Frothy?)
  • Diarrhea (See Stools below)
  • Tongue (Smooth or geographic – looks like different continents)
  • Edema
  • Tooth enamel defects
  • Electrolyte depletion
  • Weakness
  • Energy loss
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue

  In the above lists, the symptoms that are common in both disorders / diseases are highlighted.

  Luckily, many people who have either of these diseases do not also have the other.  At the same time, it is possibly common for some people who are diagnosed with Celiac Disease to have symptoms of depression as they are adapting to their new lifestyle.  Follow this link for an article about this very thing: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/klu/ddas/2002/00000047/00000009/00450363

  Also, the large presence of blogging testimonials on the internet support this possibility as it is unfortunately all too easy to find someone on the Internet revealing their discomfort and emotional challenges in adapting to a diagnosis of Celiac Sprue.  http://www.glutenfreeforum.com/index.php?autocom=blog&blogid=229.

  So it is really difficult to pose a confident recomendation that will suit all involved.  But as they come to view, I will try to share them.  One approach is shared at the following link:  http://food-allergies.suite101.com/article.cfm/diagnosed_with_celiac_disease.

   In the meantime, for all too many of us, the dance between these two diseases can sometimes be a way too dramatic tango.  So, good luck!

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2 Responses to “Celiac Disease and Depression: A Dramatic Tango”

  1. John said

    “is no proof that either persons with Celiac Disease or persons with Depression should be ashamed of their conditions.”

    I hope that English is not your first language and you meant something other than “ashamed”. Because if not… shame on you.

    • nepeht said

      I am not quite sure precisely what this comment is about: (1) Is it disagreement with the idea that people should not feel obligated to carry shame for having Celiac Disease or Depression; or (2) Is it a concern about how this thought was originally posted by me (i.e., a poor use of English)?
      If it is a disagreement with the need for people to feel shame due to a medical condition, then I guess we just disagree. And that is OK with me. Please feel free to state your position, what ever it is.
      If it is a matter of concern over my use of the English language, then I would have to say that this is precisely why I have always enjoyed working with professional editors whenever given the opportunity. Unfortunately, this blog has no such professional staff and in fact no paid staff at all.
      Nonetheless, if anyone has constructive input regarding either the philosophical positions postulated on this site, the form in which they are presented, or the language in which they have been posted, please feel free to pass them along.

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