Celiac and Psychiatric Disease
A Large Number of People with Diagnosed Celiac Experience Psychiatric Disease- I Was One of Them
How frightening do would it feel to wake up in your own bed at the fresh age of eighteen, only to realize that you are having a hard time grasping where you are, what day it is, and even forgetting your beloved pets name as they come to greet you. You rush to the bathroom, splash water on your face in hopes of feeling something realistic, but nothing… You stare at yourself for a solid five minutes, forgetting every piece of who you are, and trying so hard to snap out of this “dream” you are in. I was experiencing a phenomenon known as depersonalization.
The sad fact is that I, as well as many others (35% according to Bürk, et al., 2009) that have diagnosed Celiac Disease have experienced some form of psychiatric illness as a result of a permeable gut leaking toxins into the bloodstream and crossing the blood-brain barrier. For almost two long years, I lived in a cloud. Nothing seemed real to me, and I always felt as if I had a cluster of fog lingering over my head day in and day out. I experienced panic attacks in my sleep that would send me shooting out of bed in the middle of the night. I ended up missing over halfof my senior year of high school and my first semester of college because of these debilitating symptoms. My life was a living hell, but at the time, I had no idea why.
I grew up in a family that served traditional southern fare most of the time (with the exception of the occasional fast food treat). My family was not educated on nutrition or food intolerances, so they believed that everything was good for everybody. Little did I know, that each meal I ate was only making matters worse for me. I was told by every person I came into contact with ensured me that these symptoms were “all in my head” and that I should just snap out of it. Even the doctors told me that I should just try stress management techniques, but nothing was working. It wasn’t until college that I actually convinced someone to test me for celiac disease. After doing tons of research on the symptoms I was experiencing, I am thankful that I discovered the disease and was able to convince someone to test me for it.
Long and behold, I had a positive tTg-IgA test for celiac disease. Everything was finally starting to make sense, as far as symptoms went. I had no idea where to start with “gluten-free” eating and had never even heard of gluten, but I was determined to try to figure it out for the sake of my mental and physical health.
Fast forward four years, and you would see a much healthier, highly educated, mentally clear woman who has learned more about nutrition than just simply going “gluten-free”. Not only have I learned what works for my body, but I have also been able to heal my gut (and thus my brain). I now wake up every day feeling like a ray of sunshine because I decided to dive deep into the nutritional exploration of whole foods and how they work for my body. I would never wish what I experienced on anyone in the world, but I do hope that more people are able to consider that mental symptoms can actually be the face of an underlying disease. It is vital to listen to your own body and figure out what works for you!
Health Food=Healthy Gut=Heathy Brain
Referecnece: Bürk, K., Farecki, M., Lamprecht, G., Roth, G., Decker, P., Weller, M., & Oertel, W. (2009, October 20). Neurological symptoms in patients with biopsy proven celiac disease. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/mds.22821