Celiac disease and mental health: The truth hurts

W.Does the universe end here? Does time really exist? What causes mental health disorders? All mega mysteries, but we will investigate number three. That brings us to celiac disease and mental health: the truth hurts.

A simple blood test is available to detect CD. However, the only way to confirm a diagnosis is through an intestinal biopsy.

It is estimated that 1.4% of the world’s population suffers from celiac disease.

The figure drops to 1% in the United States, but consider this. It is believed that 83% of those who actually suffer from celiac disease do not know it. And that is attributed to not being diagnosed, as well as being misdiagnosed.

Celiac disease can lead to all kinds of serious medical conditions, including emotional and mental disorders. That means we have to talk about it. We will take care of the business in two parts. Here we will learn about celiac disease and we will come back and review the connection to mental health in part two.

Let’s roll…

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease (CD) is a serious disease. autoimmune disease which occurs in genetically predisposed people. For them, the ingestion of glutenA protein found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye), generates an immune response that attacks the small finger-like projections that line the small intestineknown as villi.

That is a major problem because when the villi are damaged, proper absorption of nutrients cannot occur. CD can develop at any age after an individual begins consuming gluten. FYI, “celiac” means anything that has to do with the abdomen or abdominal cavity.

Classic, non-classical and silent celiac disease

The CD can be classified as classical, non-classical and silent…


In classic CD, patients present with signs and symptoms of malabsorption, including diarrhea, steatorrheaand weight loss or growth retardation in children.

Not classic

In nonclassical CD, patients may have mild gastrointestinal symptoms without clear signs of malabsorption or may have seemingly unrelated symptoms. Patients may also suffer from abdominal bloating and pain, iron deficiency anemia, chronic fatigue, chronic migraines, peripheral neuropathy, chronic and unexplained elevation of liver enzymes, reduced bone mass and bone fractures, vitamin deficiency (folic acid and B12). ), difficulty losing weight, late menarche/early menopause, unexplained infertility, tooth enamel defects, depression and anxiety, dermatitis herpetiformis.


Silent CD is also known as asymptomatic CD. Patients report no symptoms, but still experience damage to the villi of the small intestine. Studies show that although patients thought they had no symptoms, after following a strict gluten-free diet, they reported better gastrointestinal and overall health.


People with a first-degree relative (parent, child, sibling) with CD have a 1 in 10 risk of developing the disease. First-degree relatives should always get tested, even if they don’t have symptoms. Second-degree relatives (grandchildren, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews) also have a higher risk of developing CD.

Tests and confirmation of the diagnosis.

A simple blood test is available to detect CD. However, the only way to confirm a diagnosis is through an intestinal biopsy. There is much more to learn about evidence and confirmation. Make sure you access those links.

What is celiac disease like?

How is celiac disease treated?

Healthy villi on the left, atrophied on the right

Painting an image of a CD is difficult to do. After all, there are over 200 known symptoms that can occur in the digestive system as well as other parts of the body.

And keep in mind that CD can affect adults and children, and the symptoms are not necessarily the same.

This presents serious challenges.

We’re certainly not going to cover them all, but let’s look at some symptoms that cover most of the bases…

Symptoms in children

  • Abdominal swelling and pain
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • delayed puberty
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Short stature
  • Weightloss

Symptoms in adults

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating and gas
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Diarrhea and constipation
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Blistering, itchy skin rash (dermatitis herpetiformis)
  • Missed periods
  • Mouth ulcers and thrush
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • osteoporosis and osteomalacia
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Reduced spleen function.
  • Weightloss

That gives you an idea of ​​what the CD looks like. And it’s not a pretty picture, is it?

How is celiac disease treated?

The only treatment for CD is to follow a strict gluten-free diet for life. In the United States, for example, products can be labeled gluten-free if they contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. Well, that can handle the heart of the disease; However, what about the associated conditions?

Vitamin, mineral and other deficiencies.

People with CD are often deficient in fiber, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, folate, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B12, and vitamin D, as well as calories and protein. Copper and vitamin B6 deficiencies are also possible, but less common. B12 and folate supplementation may help people with CD recover from anxiety and depression caused by vitamin deficiencies. However, patients may still be deficient in vitamin B because a gluten-free diet may not provide enough supplements. This can be remedied with a daily gluten-free multivitamin. Should not exceed 100% of the daily value (DV) for vitamins and minerals. A doctor may also prescribe calcium and vitamin D supplements if intake is not sufficient.

bone health

The doctor of an adult patient with CD should order a bone density test at the time of diagnosis to detect osteopenia/osteoporosis. A bone density test may also be ordered for children and adolescents who have experienced severe malabsorption, a prolonged delay in diagnosis, have symptoms of bone disease, or are not following a gluten-free diet. If a person is at high risk for a bone fracture, dietary supplements and appropriate medications will likely be prescribed.

Dermatitis herpetiformis

Medications such as dapsone or sulfapyridine are given for a short period of time to control the rash. For most people, following a strict gluten-free diet greatly reduces the symptoms of dermatitis herpetiformis. FYI, the chances of getting a medicine that contains gluten are extremely small. But it is important to eliminate all risks by consulting the ingredients with a doctor or pharmacist.

That’s a wrapper

I knew very little about celiac disease going into this series. And I have to tell you, I was surprised by what I learned. Frankly, it shook me.

I hope you found the information useful.

Well, I will upload the second part shortly. Stay tuned so you don’t miss out on those mental health connections.

The two wonderful sources of information in this article are worth a visit. If you have celiac disease, want to know more about it or want to donate, stop by: Celiacos.com Celiac Disease Foundation Chipur’s mood and anxiety insights and inspirational articles are always a good read. Test it.

Bill White is not a doctor and provides this information for educational purposes only. Always contact your doctor if he has questions, advice or recommendations.

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