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Celiac Disease Linked to Depression in WomenCeliac Disease Linked to Depression in Women

December 28, 2011

2 Min Read
Celiac Disease Linked to Depression in Women

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.Compared to the general population, women who suffer from celiac disease are more likely to report symptoms of depression and disordered eating, even when they adhere to a gluten-free diet, according to a new study published in the journal Chronic Illness.

Researchers at Penn State, Syracuse University and Drexel University used a Web-mediated survey to assess a range of physical, behavioral and emotional experiences in 177 American women over age 18 years who reported a physician-provided diagnosis of celiac disease. 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 clinical depression, and frequency of negative thoughts and behaviors associated with eating and body image.

They found that most participants frequently adhered to a gluten-free diet, and the greater compliance with diet was related to increased vitality, lower stress, decreased depressive symptoms and greater overall emotional health. However, 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.

The researchers noted women with celiac disease tend to suffer from what is typically characterized as disordered eating, given that the focus of celiac-disease management is to pay careful attention to what and how one eats.

"What we don't know is what leads to what and under what circumstances," they said. "It's likely that the disease, stress, weight, shape and eating issues, and depression are interconnected. But 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."



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