Are you hanging on by a thread? Depressed and anxious? Could a food intolerance to gluten or celiac disease be causing your depression and anxiety?
I have a lot of patients who come to see me for chronic back, neck pain and other chronic joint-related problems. Many patients present with multiple pain complaints with depression and anxiety being a common one. Some of these patients have seen many health practitioners and have received lots of other therapies including massage therapy, chiropractic care, physiotherapy, acupuncture, and medications. Maybe one of these treatments helps for a short time or none of these treatments helped. Regardless, they haven’t received a long-term solution. Does this describe you?
Inflammation causes depression
Although there are numerous underlying causes of depression and anxiety there is growing body of research that suggests that many of these disorders are caused primarily by inflammation (swelling). If you suffer with anxiety and depression here’s how inflammation could be causing it:
- Inflammation systemically or throughout the whole body happens often as the result of gut problems.
- Inflammatory cytokines (chemicals such as interferon, interleukin, and growth factors made by immune cells) are produced your gut and leak into the bloodstream.
- When these inflammatory cytokines reach your brain they can suppress your frontal cortex or the front part of your brain behind your forehead.
- Your frontal cortex is responsible for a lot of our higher brain function, so when the action of your frontal cortex is suppressed, you get symptoms that are like what you would see in a major depressive disorder.
There is growing body of research that suggests that depression and anxiety disorders are caused primarily by inflammation (swelling).
There are numerous causes of inflammation. Celiac disease (autoimmune disorder caused by gluten) and gluten intolerance are very common causes of inflammation.
Gluten Intolerance and Celiac Disease – a common cause of inflammation
The signs and symptoms of celiac disease typically include diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain, fatigue, lethargy, and malnutrition. However, celiac disease can also present with atypical signs and symptoms ranging from chronic headaches to joint pain to insomnia. In fact, 30% of newly diagnosed celiac patients don’t even have gut symptoms. Further, for every new case of celiac disease diagnosed, there are 6.4 cases that are undiagnosed which means the majority of celiac patients are atypical or have “silent” forms without gut symptoms.(1, 2)
30% of newly diagnosed celiac patients don’t even have gut symptoms. Further, for every new case of celiac disease diagnosed, there are 6.4 cases that are undiagnosed which means the majority of celiac patients are atypical or have “silent” forms without gut symptoms.
Gluten intolerance can be hard to diagnosis because of the many symptoms that are associated with it. As mentioned earlier, you don’t have to have gut symptoms to have gluten intolerance. Gluten intolerance can affect nearly every tissue in the body, including the brain, skin, thyroid gland, pancreas, liver, joints, stomach and small intestine, and blood vessels.(3) Because the range of symptoms associated with gluten intolerance is so broad and nonspecific (can be attributed to many other conditions) many patients and medical doctors may not even suspect gluten or another food intolerance could even cause them.
Gluten intolerance, whether you have celiac disease or not, has been linked to neurological and psychiatric disease such as depression and schizophrenia. People who have celiac disease and gluten intolerance have an increased risk of depression, anxiety and suicide. (4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9) 40 percent of patients with ataxia (loss of control of body movements), and 25 percent of patients with schizophrenia produce antibodies to gluten. (9, 10)
People who have celiac disease and gluten intolerance have an increased risk of depression and suicide.
This a serious problem and it shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Gluten Free, a “happy” ending
Typically with the chronic pain patient we will do a trial of chiropractic adjustments. Many times people will respond well and everyone is happy. If patients don’t get better or slightly better, I will recommend they do a proper elimination diet or at the very least cut out all gluten containing food products (bread, crackers, cereal, pasta, baked goods, etc.). Guess what happens within 2-4 weeks? Typically the patient’s pain has lessened and their moods have improved as well. They’re happy.
Is Gluten making you depressed and anxious?
If you’re suffering with depression and anxiety, I encourage you to try eating 100% gluten free and adhering to a nutrient dense whole food diet like the Paleo diet. You can also do a proper elimination diet or get reliable food intolerance lab testing done through Cyrex.