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Celiac disease and depression

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Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder associated with eating glutens and having a negative reaction to them. Women who have celiac disease are more likely to report depressive symptoms and eating disorders than other women in the general population. Even when sticking with a gluten-free diet and maintaining physical health, they suffer from mental health issues according to a new collaborative study from Penn State, Syracuse University and Drexel University.

“It is easy to see how people who are not managing their disease well can frequently feel unwell and, therefore, be more stressed and have higher rate of depression,” said Josh Smyth, professor of biobehavioral health and medicine, Penn State. “But researchers had not carefully looked at whether people who are effectively managing celiac disease exhibit a greater risk for such difficulties.”

People with celiac generally suffer from abdominal pain, constipation, decreased appetite, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting as a reaction to gluten. A little more than 5% of the population have been diagnosed with the disorder and most people manage it by eliminating glutens from their diet.

This research was based on a Web-mediated survey of 177 women with celiac disease. They checked for level of commitment to diet and exercise, symptoms, ability to function, amount of stress and depressive symptoms.

Even though most people worked with a gluten-free diet and enjoyed greater vitality as a result, they still exhibited signs of depression more so than non-celiacs. “Even those people who were managing their illness very well reported higher rates of stress, depression and a range of issues clustered around body dissatisfaction, weight and shape when compared to the general population,” said Smyth.

Treatment for the disease should not only include physiological controls, but psychological ones as well.

Source: Chronic Illness, ScienceDaily

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