Undiagnosed Gluten Intolerance May Be the Cause of Depression

Press release via MarketWire

DepressionDespite a growing number of studies that show antidepressants to be no more effective than placebos, they remain one of the most frequently prescribed drug types in the U.S. Millions of Americans take antidepressants every day and yet are no closer to finding the actual cause of their depression or getting rid of it. At HealthNOW Medical Center, doctors have discovered that there are undiagnosed physical conditions behind depression which, when addressed, restore emotional health without dangerous drugs. One of the most common health problems behind depression is gluten intolerance, an umbrella term which includes celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.

According to the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, U.S. consumers spent more than $11 billion on antidepressants in 2010 alone. For many of these consumers, the antidepressants don’t work – a fact that is borne out by several scientific studies. The solution to this ineffectiveness, as offered by medical doctors and pharmaceutical companies, is to take an additional drug – usually an antipsychotic. As a result, 2010 saw another $1.4 billion spent on antipsychotics.

Despite this drug combination, the rates of depression continue to soar and millions of Americans continue to suffer from depression while taking drugs with serious side effects.

“The reason for this outrageous situation is that drug companies continue to push an incorrect diagnosis for depression on the public, and on medical doctors. They say it’s a ‘chemical imbalance’ or, in the case of those whose family members also suffer from depression, it’s ‘genetic’. In 20 years of practice, I have rarely seen a patient suffering from depression or anxiety who did not have an actual physical condition behind their mental and emotional problems,” said Dr. Vikki Petersen, Certified Clinical Nutritionist, author of the groundbreaking book “The Gluten Effect” and co-founder of HealthNOW Medical Center.

“In my experience, the most common causes behind depression are gluten intolerance, poor nutrition, adrenal exhaustion, and hormonal imbalance. At HealthNOW Medical Center, we thoroughly test each patient to find the root cause of their depression and, invariably, there is a real solution – one that gets rid of the depression while improving the person’s health, and without the need for dangerous drugs that do nothing more than attempt to relieve the symptoms.”

How does gluten intolerance cause depression?

According to Dr. Petersen, the nervous system is more commonly affected by gluten intolerance than any part of the body other than the digestive system. In a gluten intolerant person, the body reacts to the gluten protein as if it were a toxin: the immune system attacks the affected area of the body in an attempt to get rid of the protein or reduce its effect. However, the protein to which those with gluten intolerance are reacting is very similar to other proteins found in the body, including those in the brain. When the body confuses these proteins, the immune system attacks the brain and nervous system. This results in inflammation and irritation that, in turn, causes depression and anxiety.

“Millions of people could end their suffering if doctors simply examined them fully for all the possible physical factors behind the patient’s depression. Unfortunately, they are drug-oriented and more often than not drugs are their only solution. At HealthNOW Medical Center, we specialize in getting to the root cause of depression and other health problems so we can help the patient actually get better.”

Dr. Petersen has written an e-book which she offers free of charge to anyone who would like to investigate the possibility of gluten intolerance causing their depression or other health problem. For more information on depression and gluten intolerance, or to get a copy of the free e-book, visit HealthNOW Medical Center.

About HealthNOW Medical Center

HealthNOW is a unique medical clinic in Sunnyvale California that combines the best of internal medicine, clinical nutrition, naturopathy, physical therapy and chiropractic. The team of doctors from these disciplines proactively work together to resolve patients’ unique health problems and conditions. What really sets this medical center apart from most medical clinics highlights a very unfortunate fact about the medical industry, its emphasis on treating symptoms. HealthNOW is about what every medical clinic in the world should be: finding and fixing the root cause of health problems.

HealthNOW takes pride in being able to wean patients off drugs successfully by identifying the actual root cause of the problem. While dietary and nutritional factors are often causative agents, other contributing factors are identified and personalized for each patient through specialized lab tests to achieve a successful result. HealthNOW Medical Center treats patients from around the country as well as internationally. They created a “Destination Clinic” to cater to the needs of those visiting from out of state or out of the country.

Dr. Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN is co-founder of HealthNOW Medical Center and the author of “The Gluten Effect”. She has been featured in national magazines, international medical journals and is a frequent headlined speaker. She regularly blogs at Everyday Health, Celiac.com, Celiac Central and HealthNOW.

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Study Finds Relationship Between Chronic Illness and Depression

Courtesy Hotchkiss Brain Institute – Kathryn Sloniowski

New research from the Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI), at the University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine, shows that adults over the age of 50 with at least one chronic illness (such as migraine) are more likely to experience a major depressive episode, than those living without a chronic illness. The discovery brings awareness to prevention efforts targeting older adults exhibiting symptoms of depression or chronic illnesses.

The study, which was published in the June edition of Journal of Affective Disorders, utilized data collected by Statistics Canada between May and December 2002, from the Canadian Community Health Survey – Mental Health and Wellbeing. Information was analyzed from 15,591 participants over the age of 50, while a separate analysis was done for people over 65 years of age. The study focused on ‘community dwelling’ adults, participants not living in a hospital, care facility or retirement home.

“Depression is a leading cause of disease burden and years of life lost worldwide. Many chronic illnesses occur simultaneously with depression, and it is important to understand how they are related to aid in prevention and treatment efforts,” says Kirsten Fiest, lead author and trainee in the HBI.

The survey included the classification 36 chronic illnesses. In questioning individuals, the survey asked participants if they had been diagnosed with the condition by a health practitioner, and if the condition has lasted for more than six months. Illnesses including (but not limited to), cataracts, diabetes, migraines, cancer and bowel disorders were listed. The study found that chronic illnesses are highly prevalent in Canadian seniors, but found the three chronic illnesses with the highest comorbidity with major depression are chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and migraine.

Dr. Scott Patten, HBI member and professor of psychiatry in the Faculty of Medicine says, “Depression can affect cognitive function, creating difficulty in adhering to treatments. It also zaps people of the energy and optimism that are so badly needed in coping with chronic illnesses. In some instances, it makes symptoms worse. For example, depression tends to magnify the experience of pain.”

With the number of seniors expected to double over the next 25 to 50 years, this information is vital to create awareness for both individuals and health practitioners.

The study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Alberta Health Services.

Child celiacs have increased risks for emotional and behavioral problems

by BMC Pediatrics

Children with chronic illnesses are known to have increased risks for emotional and behavioral problems. In the present study, children and adolescent suffering from celiac disease (CD) were compared with healthy controls to assess differences in the psychological profile.

Methods: A total of 100 well-treated and compliant CD patients (65 females/35 males; age mean+/-SD: 10.38+/-2.71) were compared to 100 normal controls (58 females/42 males; age mean+/-SD: 11.47+/-2.61). Emotional and behavioral problems were assessed by the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), the Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI) and the Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children (MASC).

Results: Subjects with CD self-reported an increased rate of anxiety and depression symptoms and showed higher scores in “harm avoidance” and “somatic complaints”, in the CBCL parent-report questionnaire, as compared to healthy control subjects. Furthermore, gender differences could be observed in the group of CD patients, with males displaying significantly higher CBCL externalizing scores, in social, thought and attention problems, as compared to female, who in turns showed more prominent internalizing symptoms such as depression. Conclusions: The increased rate of emotional and behavioral problems in children and adolescent with CD emphasizes the importance of an early detection of mental health problems in these children.

Read the full study. (PDF)

New poll: How do you obtain your gluten-free bread?

By David Fowler

It’s a struggle for all Celiacs. How do you replace that nummy bread you were use to having? You buy one from the store, but it’s not the flavour you prefer, or you become suspicious of the ingredients of the package. You try baking it yourself, but mixing what seems like a gazillion flours together to substitute wheat flour seems more like advanced chemistry than baking. It’s enough to make one to give up on it entirely.

Tell us what you do via our poll on the side.

Our previous poll on anxiety and depression in Celiacs is now closed. If this unscientific poll is any indication, it seems that a majority of you suffer from it in addition to Celiac Disease.

Have any comments on these polls or other polls?  Use the comment feature below.

It’s depression anxiety education and screening day

Have you stopped feeling like yourself lately? Or maybe you’re worried about someone you care about? Maybe you feel sad, empty and hopeless but don’t know why you can’t shake off the feelings. Or you’ve been feeling anxious, panicked or distressed by troubling thoughts and behaviours, and it’s affecting your daily life. Or, you’re experiencing changes in sleep or appetite, decreased energy, and difficulty concentrating or enjoying activities you used to take pleasure in?

You may have clinical depression or an anxiety disorder — real conditions that touch at least one in every 5 people.

As Celiacs, science suggests that Celiacs have an even higher rate of depression and anxiety than in the normal population.  (See more at Celiac.com)

The good news is that there are as many treatment and community support options for mood and anxiety disorders as there are faces of them.

Throughout the day there are screening centres open around the province.  As this article is posted late in the day, you can call 1-866-917-HOPE to sign up for telephone screening.  The line is also open Friday October 8th.

All screenings are completely free and totally anonymous. You do not have to sign your name anywhere and volunteers and clinicians involved in the event must sign an agreement respecting the confidentiality and anonymity of all participants. The screening is an opportunity to learn more about mood and anxiety disorders, complete a brief screening questionnaire (optional), and speak one-on-one with a clinician.

Take the online depression/anxiety/ risky drinking screening self-test.

When you arrive at the screening, you will be offered the opportunity to complete a brief written screening questionnaire. You do not have to complete this questionnaire if you don’t want to; there are even questionnaires you can fill out on behalf of a loved one you’re concerned about. If you do choose to complete the questionnaire, you will have a private space to complete it before you hand it in for scoring. While waiting to be called for an individual interview, sites will offer the opportunity to watch an educational video, listen to a presentation, speak to volunteers and others who know what you’re going through, and/or pick up some informative brochures. Some sites provide this education component only without the screening. Many sites also offer refreshments.

When a your number is called, volunteers will direct you to a private area where you can meet with a clinician for about 10 minutes to discuss the results of your test and any symptoms you may be experiencing. Upon leaving the interview, you will be provided with a list of resources in the community that you can access for more information about depression, anxiety disorder or questions about treatment options. You will be supported and empowered to talk to your family doctor first, particularly if there is a likelihood of moderate to severe symptoms of depression. After the interview, you are free to return to the main room with educational materials and ask questions of the volunteers or fill out a brief and anonymous evaluation of the event before you leave. What’s more, you may end up having a conversation with other people who have come out, like you, to learn more about mood and anxiety disorders and the reality of recovery.

Depression Anxiety Education and Screening Day (DAESD) is held annually in October during the first Thursday of Mental Illness Awareness Week; 2010 is the 16th season of the program in BC.

The event is a high-profile awareness campaign that seeks to educate the public about the types and symptoms of depression, anxiety disorders and related conditions; the impact on individuals, families, workplaces and communities and the ability to be screened for the illness similar to other physical conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes. Most importantly, the event highlights successes with recovery and the availability of various treatment options as well as community resources and supports. The intent is to educate, not diagnose.

At a screening site, people are invited to come and learn more about the symptoms and treatment options available for mood and anxiety disorders. A hands-on way to achieve this education goal is for participants to fill out a short screening test known as the PHQ-9® tool (for major depression), the MINI® tool (for anxiety disorders), or any number of other specialty questionnaires for other conditions such as postpartum depression, mania (bipolar disorder), or for special populations like seniors, youth and ethnocultural groups. Risky-drinking screenings are also available at most sites.

After completing the short quiz that fits best, attendees then meet briefly with a mental health professional to discuss the results of the form. Print, video and seminar resources are also available for participants. Some sites provide this education component only without the screening.

In the US and the rest of Canada, the event is known as National Depression Screening Day or NDSD. NDSD is a registered service mark of a non-profit society in the United States called Screening for Mental Health. The organization has been coordinating efforts in the US since 1990 and in Canada since 1995. NDSD is by far the most popular campaign but Screening for Mental Health Inc. also organizes screening days for alcoholism and eating disorders. More than half a million people have been screened over the past decade, with more than 200,000 having sought professional help as a direct result of a screening.

Information provided courtesy HereToHelp.bc.ca

New poll: Do you suffer from anxiety/depression in addition to Celiac Disease?

According to the study Affective and psychiatric disorders in celiac disease, growing evidence suggests the association between Celiac Disease and affective and psychiatric disorders.  The disorders could be the expression of an organic disease rather than primary psychiatric illnesses.

Among patients examined by the study, key finders were:

  • 1379 (84.1%) showed state anxiety
  • 1098 (67%) showed trait anxiety
  • 442 (27%) showed current depression
  • The number of gastrointestinal diseases was directly correlated to state anxiety (p < 0.001) and trait anxiety (p = 0.04).
  • Females showed higher levels of anxiety and depression than males (p < 0.001).
  • State anxiety was related to food allergies (p < 0.001), small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) (p = 0.001), Hp infection (p = 0.01) and ulcerative colitis in active phase (p = 0.03).
  • Trait anxiety was related to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) (p < 0.001), Helicobacter pylori (Hp) infection (p = 0.001), food allergies (p = 0.001) and SIBO (p = 0.001).
  • Current depression was related to IBS (p < 0.001) and coeliac disease (p = 0.01), SIBO (p = 0.02).

Therefore, for this poll, we are asking, do you suffer from anxiety/depression in addition to Celiac Disease?

As for our previous probiotics poll, seems that a majority of respondents are taking them.  Probiotic bacteria have been shown to digest gluten proteins to harmless peptides.