People with celiac disease are 17 times more likely to have bipolar disorder than those without celiac.
I had gut problems for decades. I thought it was normal to feel like crap after I ate. Then I was diagnosed with celiac disease and my life completely changed.
I feel great since eliminating gluten from my diet. I have more energy, I’m not sick all the time and I’m less moody. The moody part really intrigued me, so I looked into how celiac and bipolar relate.
It turns out there is a strong association between the two diseases. Also, comorbidity with a mood disorder is a key indicator in measuring quality of life in individuals with celiac disease.
1 -2% of the population has celiac disease. In this group 4.3% are diagnosed with bipolar disorder. In the research cited, in the non-celiac control group only .4% had bipolar disorder.
There’s growing evidence that autoimmune disorders and bipolar disorder are closely associated. Celiac disease increases immune activation, which is hypothesized to act as an important factor in the onset of bipolar disorder.
The metabolic explanation is that malabsorption of tryptophan leads to a decreased central serotonin synthesis. Also, cytokines common in celiac may exert an effect on the brain circuits related to mood regulation.
The researchers won’t go as far as to say that celiac disease causes bipolar disorder, but they do surmise that in people with a vulnerability to bipolar, there is a risk that celiac triggers the mood disorder.
The study also noted the profound impact the two disease’s co-occurrence can have on quality of life (QOL).
“The results show, surprisingly, that in the absence of psychiatric illness people with celiac disease do not have an impaired QOL compared to the people who do not suffer from celiac disease. But when measuring the burden suffered by people with celiac disease comorbid with mood disorders, the “dual diagnosis”… lowers the quality of life in the same manner as serious chronic diseases.”
In fact, the study suggests that the negative impact on QOL in people with celiac disease and bipolar disorder is second only to that of people with bipolar and MS.
I know my life has vastly improved since my diagnosis of celiac disease. Small inconveniences such as difficulties in restaurants pale in comparison to the violent mood swings and intestinal distress I suffered before and have since largely disappeared since I changed my diet.
Please understand, though, that my bipolar disorder is still medically treated as it was before I knew I had celiac disease. Removing gluten from my diet has not led to the removal of my psych meds.
My bipolar disorder is not cured. I just feel a lot better.
In concluding their study, the researchers suggest it is advisable to perform an adequate screening for celiac disease on all the people with bipolar disorder that show some key symptoms or have a family history of celiac disease.
And everyone diagnosed with celiac disease should be screened for a mood disorder.