Women with celiac disease -- an autoimmune disorder associated with a negative reaction to eating gluten -- are more likely than the general population to report symptoms of depression and disordered eating, even when they adhere to a gluten-free diet, according to researchers at Penn State, Syracuse University and Drexel University.
People with celiac disease often suffer from abdominal pain, constipation, decreased appetite, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. The disease affects somewhere between one in 105 to one in 1,750 people in the United States and is typically controlled by avoiding gluten-containing foods such as wheat, barley and rye.
"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," said Josh Smyth, professor of biobehavioral health and medicine, Penn State, "But researchers had not carefully looked at whether people who are effectively managing celiac disease exhibit a greater risk for such difficulties."
Smyth and his colleagues used a web-mediated survey to assess a range of physical, behavioral and emotional experiences in 177 American women over the age of 18 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 clinical depression, and frequency of thoughts and behaviors associated with eating and body image.
The results are posted online and will appear in a future issue of Chronic Illness.
"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 hea
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