According to researchers at Penn State, Syracuse University and Drexel University, women with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder associated with an allergic reaction to eating gluten are more likely to report symptoms of depression and disordered eating, even when they avoid gluten containing foods.
In response to ingesting gluten, people with celiac disease often suffer from abdominal pain, decreased appetite, constipation, nausea and vomiting & diarrhea.
It is typically controlled by avoiding gluten containing foods such as those including rye, barley and wheat.
“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 rates of depression. But researchers had not carefully looked at whether people who are effectively managing celiac disease exhibit a greater risk for such difficulties.”, said Josh Smyth, professor of bio behavioral health and medicine, Penn Stat.
Smyth and his colleagues used a Web-mediated survey to assess a range of physical, behavioral and emotional experiences in one hundred seventy seven American women over the age of eighteen who reported a physician-provided diagnosis of celiac disease.
The survey questions explored respondents’ levels of adherence to a gluten free diet and assessed various symptoms of celiac disease, how physical symptoms interfere with functioning, the respondents’ experience and management of stressful situations, symptoms of depression (clinical), and frequency of negative thoughts and behaviors associated with eating and body image.
“We found that most participants frequently adhered to a gluten free diet, and this greater compliance with diet was related to increased vitality, lower stress, decreased depressive symptoms and greater overall emotional health,” said Smyth.
“We don’t know if women with both higher stress and have celiac disease are more likely to develop symptoms of disordered eating and then become depressed, or if women with celiac disease are depressed and then become stressed, which leads to disordered eating. In the future, we plan to investigate the temporal sequence of these symptoms.”
According to Smyth, the team’s results may have implications for people with food allergies, diabetes and Crohn’s disease, a form of inflammatory bowel disease, as well as celiac disease.