Disclaimer: This post is coming from a place inside of me that really resents this disease. I’m not feeling so optimistic today so I thought it would help me personally to shed some light on a few grey areas. Instead of being negative, I’m going to try for the informative approach. So here goes:
When we hear people talk about Celiac Disease, it’s always about physical symptoms and the treatment – a gluten-free diet. Never do I hear about the psychological effects of this disease. Physically, yeah it’s pretty bad when you get glutened. It’s pretty bad when you’re losing weight and getting sick all of the time before you figure out your diagnosis. But that’s just it, it’s physical and it goes away. A few weeks after getting glutened you feel good as new. I remember it being a matter of days that I started feeling normal again after starting a gluten-free diet. For me, the physical symptoms are manageable.
After I was diagnosed, I read all of the right books, I went to a dietitian, I had check-ups with a G.I. and basically did everything you’re supposed to do. I learned what I could eat and what to stay away from. I felt like I had everything under control again. Little did I know, things aren’t as easy as they say.
Not once was there mention of the tolling emotional and psychological effects of this disease. The feeling of panic every time you put something to your mouth. The slight stomach ache after you eat, “am I just full, or is this a reaction?” When you’re the odd man out because you can’t eat where your friends want to go. Holidays and family gatherings consist of bringing a can of soup so you can eat. Traveling means reserving half of your suitcase for food. No, they don’t talk about these things when they teach you how to manage Celiac Disease.
According to Celiac Central, National Foundation for Celiac Awareness:
- “The Italian longitudinal study found that women with celiac disease on a gluten-free diet reported higher levels of anxiety compared to women in the general population.”
- “Similarly, a study published in June 2011 found that children with celiac disease following a gluten-free diet had higher rates of anxiety and depression compared to children who did not have celiac disease.”
Celiac Central goes on to explain:
“Like depression, anxiety in individuals with celiac disease is often related to the challenges of disease management. The constant attention to risks of cross-contamination can lead to phobias related to eating or dining out. Others may develop an obsessive compulsive disorder around cleaning surfaces or utensils before eating.”
Celiac Disease is not the worst disease out there. But it’s serious and it’s seriously hard. So give your Celiac friends a hug or if you are a fellow Celiac, give yourself one and stay positive.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Plato