Women with Celiac More Prone to Depression

in Celiac
Published: January 17, 2012

A new survey finds that women with celiac disease are more prone than most to depression and disordered eating.

While maintaining a gluten-free diet definitely helped emotional as well as physical well-being, researchers from Penn State, Syracuse University and Drexel University still found more depressive tendency among 177 women with celiac disease in their survey when compared with general population studies.

“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 Josh Smyth, a professor of biobehavioral health and medicine at Penn State.

“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 web-based survey included questions on the respondents’ experience and management of stressful situations, symptoms of clinical depression, frequency of negative behaviors associated with eating and body image with questions as well on celiac symptoms, adherence to the gluten-free diet and the impact of physical symptoms on normal life.

Smyth believes the findings show that celiac patients need support beyond diagnosis and instruction on the gluten-free diet. “I think we need to educate patients at diagnosis or post-diagnosis about some of the other associated difficulties they might experience and provide strategies for how to better manage those things,” he said.

“I am a proponent of elaborating our treatment models to not just address diseases, but also to address the psychological, social and behavioral aspects of disease as well, as they can influence disease outcomes and the well being of patients.”