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Anxiety and Stress Disorders

Diet and Anxiety

07/20/2007

Question:

Hi. I am a 36 year old male with bipolar disorder. Aboout 4 months ago I was told I have a gluten sensitivity by my psychiatrist and said that could play a role in my mood disorder. She asked me to go on this three phase diet removing all wheats, barley, rye, plus dairy to rid my body of any toxins. I have since gone through this diet. Now, I started this diet at the same time she introuced a new medication(Seroquel) along with Lamotrigne. I no longer have the sever lows an emotions I was feeling at the time. I have started to bring in the foods I ate before the diet and all of a sudden I started to getting full skin numbness including my lips and tounge, this happens every week or so. I also have a sense of sweating and feel really warm. My psychiatrist says it is because I went back to eating foods that have gluten. Could this be possible? I have been keeping track of the foods I have been eating. One day I will eat something and get the numbness and then eat the same food days later and not get any reaction. I have never had these symtoms before doing that diet. I dont believe it`s the food. Please help me for I can not get any answers from even my GP.

Answer:

Gluten sensitivity, which may present as celiac disease is a serious and hard to diagnose illness.  While I am certainly not an expert, I am not aware of any scientifically proven connections between celiac disease and bipolar disorder, although there are many anecdotal stories about such a connection.

The symptoms of celiac disease are widespread, and different in any individual, which makes it difficult to diagnose.  There is a skin disorder, called Dermatitis herpetiformis which is associated with gluten sensitivity, and while that does have itching, there is usually a blistering rash as well.

many times the assorted physical discomforts from celiac disease (gas, bloating, diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue, etc.) may lead to some emotional problems, including depression and anxiety, especially if the diagnosis is delayed and people suffer for years.

I encourage you to seek a second opinion and advice from a gastroenterologist specialist.  There are blood and stool tests that can diagnose you for sure.

Good luck.

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Response by:

Nancy   Elder, MD Nancy Elder, MD
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati