Thursday, February 24, 2011

More on Gluten & Depression

Lilly rather annoyed that Tuppy is napping so near her

Celiac and gluten intolerance do not always look the same, and for some of us, it looks quite different.  The tests aren't perfect.  Doctors don't necessarily think of it unless you are a "classic" case, and even then, it can take a long time for anyone to figure it out.  Tests online can be misleading as they tend to emphasize those same "classic" signs.

But we are discovering, more and more, that there is reason to believe that a lot of what we call depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, and other "disease" is another (dis)function of Celiac and gluten intolerance.

It blows my mind (and makes me so sad) that there are so many people out there suffering deeply with depression, barely able to get out of bed, barely wanting to live, who could feel like brand new versions of themselves with a minor adjustment to their diets.

Getting this information out seems like Big Important Work to me now.  So pass it along if it means anything to you.

I have spent far too many years of my life feeling like I was walking through a world made of sludge, where everything was covered in gray, a world in which my mind could sometimes not make it from point A to point B.  I do not want that for other people.

This is not to say, again, that there are not reasons to feel badly or depressed or anxious.  This is just a GIANT piece of the health puzzle.

After I wrote my post on Monday, Marcy did some research and we quickly found the evidence we needed to corroborate what I was experiencing.

You can read a good and simple overview in this article.  If you don't have time for that, here is a brief explanation of what happens:

Gliadorphin is a 7 amino acids peptide which is formed during digestion of the gliadin component of the gluten protein. Gluten-derived peptides bind to opioid receptors in the brain and exhibit morphine-like effects, for example like heroin. These compounds have been shown to react with areas of the brain which are involved in speech and auditory integration. Urine samples from people with autism, schizophrenia, and celiac disease contain high amounts of gliadorphin. It is suspected that this peptide may also be elevated in other disorders such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and depression. Symptom remission has been observed after exclusion of wheat and dairy products from the diet. 

And thus my Cotton Head after eating gluten.  A Cotton Head is no good: it can't think straight; it gets caught up easily in circular, obsessive thinking; it has no capacity to defend itself against negativity.

This kind of validation of our experiences is so important.  We have to stop blaming ourselves and start taking care of ourselves.

I will never ever eat gluten intentionally again, and I will be much more careful when I am out and about.  My (happy) life depends upon it.

(P.S. If you haven't been over to Blisschick in a few days, I've added some bright light and PINK to the site; I figured we could use some of that sort of energy.)


Tess said...

This is so interesting, and I will pass it on to someone close to me who suffers "cotton head". At least it's worth experimenting with diet to rule out a reaction.
I've had to admit - kicking and screaming because I love it - that I don't do well with bread. For me it's a physical reaction with digestive problems, but really noticeable.
I'm glad your symptoms are clearing up.

Jennifer said...

There's an article about "gluten ataxia" in the Feb/March issue of Living Without magazine.
It explains how gluten can affect the brain...something I've long suspected but had never seen any kind of proof.
I'd certainly not gotten anything from either my allergy dr or my gastroenterologist.

I'm visiting the allergist today, and speaking with the gastro (well, his PA...who seems FAR more qualified to answer my questions)tomorrow...hoping to get SOME kind of answers (gluten is only a part of my problem. I have multiple food allergies, and the list seems to be growing until there's hardly anything left to eat)

I already know though, that when it comes down to it, it'll be ME taking responsibility and just doing what my own body tells me is ok.

amy said...

most importantly - i LOVE the kitty photo!

and secondly, (i'm probably going to paraphrase this ineloquently but hopefully accurately)
i am reading crazy sexy diet, by kris carr. it's informative and entertaining - she is a riot! one of the chapters i just completed talks about how 95% of the serotonin in our bodies is produced by our guts and if you are eating poorly or are sensitive to gluten or for whatever reason not absorbing all the nutrients you need, your ability to produce serotonin is inhibited.

i am experimenting with gluten elimination now and would like to try going off my anti-dep meds. i'm scared though - being suicidal is no fun for anyone and everytime i try to go without drugs i crash. alas, i have not tried the nutritional route and frankly that scares me too.

anyway, check out and the book....

Christine Claire Reed said...

Amy, what interesting information. Took me a bit to process it, but here...

So anti-depressive meds are serotonin uptake inhibitors. They are based on the assumption that we (the depressive brained sorts) absorb serotonin into our brain cells at too high a rate, leaving too little for the brain to "swim in." (Excuse the extreme lay speak.)

Of course, now we are learning that these meds don't really work -- and perhaps NOW WE KNOW WHY!

They approach the problem from the wrong end! We don't absorb too much -- rather, we don't MAKE ENOUGH!


Wendy said...

I have to say....I fit this to a T. I started having dizziness, feeling like I would pass out and some slight stomach problems last summer. I have never had anxiety or depression...minus a day of feeling down here or my 40 + years of life. Quickly my stomach problems became worse, the dizziness was constant, visual disturbances/focusing issues and then the depression came...along with these supposed anxiety attacks. I have to say...I had started a food journal and feeling/symptom journal thankfully and within several months due to cutting most wheat out could go back and see when I felt more dizzy after eating bread, pasta or even IHOP eggs, which little did I know had pancake batter in them. I used an antidepressant low dose to feel better. After being symptom free...I added cereal and bread back into my diet...the stomach issues came up within a few days, acne, knee pain and then the fog hit...overriding the medication....that was it for me. I cut out all gluten and am 5 months free. I took the medication for 6 months and then gradually tapered off of it. I feel so great now! Am so happy to have found the reason for what was happening to me. I say the same thing overwhelms me and makes me sad to think how many people might very well be gluten intolerant vs. having a serotonin deficiency.