Research suggests that approximately 1 in 11 people with coeliac disease have a diagnosable depressive disorder. Depression is psychological state characterised by low mood. We all have periods in our lives where we feel ‘low’ and in this regard, most people can relate to the feeling of depression. The term ‘depression’ is often used as an umbrella term for a clinically diagnosable depressive disorder. These include conditions such as major depressive disorder (MDD), or persistent depressive disorder (i.e. dysthymia, also commonly referred to as chronic depression). These conditions describe patterns of depressed mood that exceed ‘normal’ feelings of sadness.

Feeling depressed in response to a sad event (e.g. the passing of a friend/family member/pet) is a normal and expected part of life. Feelings of depression that do not subside, are extreme/disproportionate relative to an event, or occur in the absence of an apparent trigger may be indicative of a depressive disorder. It is important to keep track of your mood and reach out for support if things feel unmanageable.

Severe depressive symptoms not only greatly diminish quality of life but are also associated with significant interference in one’s ability to follow the gluten-free diet and other medical treatment plans.

Symptoms of depression can include

  • Being unable to find enjoyment in previously enjoyable activities (i.e. anhedonia)
  • Eating more than usual (hyperphagia), or less than usual (hypophagia)
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia), or sleeping too much (hypersomnia)
  • Feeling tired
  • Feeling worthless
  • Feeling guilty
  • Inability to concentrate, or remain alert
  • Suicidal thinking

Clinically diagnosable disorders involving depression include

  • Major depressive disorder (MDD): severe depressive symptoms for two weeks or more.
  • Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia, also sometimes called chronic depression): depression lasting for a minimum two-year period. Depressive symptoms are generally less severe than MDD.
  • Bipolar disorders: are characterised by episodes of depressed and abnormally elevated mood (e.g. mania, hypomania).

IMPORTANT: If you are experiencing a crisis or have suicidal thoughts please seek immediate assistance from your local mental health support services. Australian residents can contact Lifeline (phone number: 13 11 14) for 24/7 crisis support. Other Australian mental health support services can be found HERE.

A list of international crisis support services can be HERE


Psychological factors