Digestive Disease Week

Digestive Disease Week

Perspective from Benjamin Lebwohl, MD, MS
May 26, 2016
2 min read

Celiac disease associated with depression in adolescents

Perspective from Benjamin Lebwohl, MD, MS
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SAN DIEGO — Celiac disease was associated with major depressive disorder in adolescents, as most adolescents with celiac disease have symptoms consistent with the disorder, according to findings presented at Digestive Disease Week 2016

“Our interim analysis does suggest that a majority of adolescents living with celiac disease may have symptoms consistent with major depressive disorder,” Jonathan Cordova, DO, pediatric gastroenterologist at the University of Chicago Medical Center, said during a presentation. “The quality of life is affected by depression in a negative manner, but does not appear to be associated with their celiac disease state.”

Jonathan Cordova

Data from recent studies have suggested that depression and anxiety account for the association between celiac disease and decreased quality of life, the researchers wrote. However, most of these studies have been performed in adults and only a few have been performed in adolescents, who may be more vulnerable to depression.

To correlate celiac disease with mental health disorders in adolescents, the researchers administered questionnaires to adolescents and their parents. The average age of adolescents was 14.6 years at the time of survey and 11.2 years at the time of diagnosis.

The researchers found no correlation between celiac disease and depression, anxiety, ADHD, age at survey, quality of life, age at diagnosis or length of time on a gluten free diet. However, the majority of adolescents and parental reports screened positive for major depressive disorder. Further, the parent’s perception of celiac disease state was associated with their perception of depression in their child.

“This data suggests that early screening for depression in any adolescent with celiac disease is crucial to help optimize behavioral health,” Cordova said. “Ultimately, we plan to follow these patients longitudinally into young adulthood with the aim to re-screen them again in 5 years.” – by Will Offit


Cordova J, et al. Abstract #844. Presented at: Digestive Disease Week; May 21-24, 2016; San Diego.

Disclosure: One researcher reports receiving a consulting fee from AbbVie.

Editor's Note: This item has been updated to better reflect the results of the study.