Aim: To compare anxiety and depression levels in adult patients with celiac disease (CD) on a gluten-free diet (GFD) with controls.
Methods: The levels of anxiety, depression and of a probable anxiety or depressive disorder were assessed by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale in 441 adult patients with CD recruited by the German Celiac Society, in 235 age- and sex-matched patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in remission or with slight disease activity, and in 441 adult persons of a representative German general population sample (GP). Potential demographic (age, sex, social class, family status) and disease-related (latency to diagnosis, duration of GFD, compliance with GFD, thyroid disease) predictors of anxiety and depression in CD were tested for by regression analyses.
Results: The level of anxiety in CD patients was predicted (R(2) = 0.07) by female gender (P = 0.01). Female sex (OR = 3.6, 95% CI: 1.3-9.4, P = 0.01) was associated with a probable anxiety disorder. Living alone (OR = 0.5, 95% CI: 0.2-0.9, P = 0.05) was associated with a reduced risk of an anxiety disorder. The level of depression and a probable depressive disorder were not predicted by any of the demographic and medical variables tested for. The levels of anxiety in patients with CD (6.6 +/- 3.4) and with IBD (6.9 +/- 3.7) were higher than those of persons in the GP (4.6 +/- 3.3) (both P < 0.001). The levels of depression in persons with CD (4.2 +/- 3.4), IBD (4.6 +/- 3.4) and of the GP (4.2 +/- 3.8) did not differ (P = 0.3). The prevalence of a probable anxiety disorder in persons with CD (16.8%) and IBD (14.0%) was higher than that of the GP (5.7%) (P < 0.001). The prevalence of a probable depressive disorder did not differ significantly between the three groups (P = 0.1).
Conclusion: Anxiety in adult German female celiacs on a GFD is higher than in persons of the GP. Female celiacs on a GFD should be screened for anxiety.