Psychiatric comorbidities in women with celiac disease

Chronic Illn. 2012 Mar;8(1):45-55. doi: 10.1177/1742395311417639. Epub 2011 Sep 20.


Objective: Although the physical consequences of Celiac Disease are well studied, less is known about co-occurring psychiatric symptoms. This study examines psychiatric risk and comorbidities of women with Celiac Disease, who may be at increased risk for psychiatric symptoms (e.g. depression, and disordered eating behaviours).

Methods: Women (N = 177) with Celiac Disease responded to an extensive web-mediated survey assessing dietary compliance, illness symptoms, psychiatric functioning, and disordered eating.

Results: Despite high reported dietary compliance, patients reported marked illness symptoms and impaired quality of life. A substantial minority endorsed symptoms that met criteria for the diagnosis of psychiatric disorders: 37% (n = 65) met the threshold suggesting depression, and 22% (n = 39) for disordered eating. Participants whose symptoms exceeded these clinical thresholds reported greater perceived stress and reduced overall mental health, relative to women below the clinical cutoffs.

Conclusions: Despite largely adhering to a gluten-free diet, a substantial subset of women with Celiac Disease report clinically relevant symptoms of depression and disordered eating; such symptoms are associated with increased psychosocial distress in other domains. These results suggest potential to improve the patient well-being through attention to psychosocial care, in addition to existing dietary recommendations for individuals with Celiac Disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Celiac Disease / diet therapy
  • Celiac Disease / epidemiology*
  • Celiac Disease / psychology*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Comorbidity
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Diet, Gluten-Free
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Patient Compliance / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality of Life
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Young Adult