Depression in adult untreated celiac subjects: diagnosis by the pediatrician

Am J Gastroenterol. 1999 Mar;94(3):839-43. doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.1999.00956.x.


Untreated celiac disease can lead to serious behavioral disorders. We describe three adult patients with undiagnosed or untreated celiac disease without particular intestinal signs, causing persistent depressive symptoms in three of the parents of our pediatric patients. In two of the three cases, the pediatrician suspected the diagnosis when taking the family history of the children. In fact, a diagnosis of celiac disease was made during childhood, when they had intestinal symptoms, but the gluten-free diet was spontaneously interrupted during the teenage period because of the disappearance of the typical intestinal signs. In the third case the mother was tested for antiendomysium antibodies (EmA), as she had a diagnosed celiac child. In all three patients, the depressive symptoms improved quickly with a gluten-free diet. In conclusion, celiac disease should be taken into consideration in the presence of behavioral and depressive disorders, particularly if they are not responsive to the usual antidepressive therapy.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Celiac Disease / complications
  • Celiac Disease / diagnosis*
  • Celiac Disease / diet therapy
  • Celiac Disease / genetics
  • Child, Preschool
  • Depressive Disorder / etiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Pediatrics