Yesterday, I read a really serious testimony of someone saying that, since they stopped eating gluten, they aren't depressed anymore.

I did some digging and find several articles linking gluten to depression. Like this one or this French one.

The source of this last article is:

Peters, S. L., Biesiekierski, J. R., Yelland, G. W., Muir, J. G. and Gibson, P. R. (2014), Randomised clinical trial: gluten may cause depression in subjects with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity – an exploratory randomised clinical study. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics. doi: 10.1111/apt.12730.

Is this study trustworthy? Were similar studies later done to refute or confirm it?

  • 14
    Standard disclaimer when talking about depression -- even if avoiding gluten can help some people with their depression, it does not follow that all people with depression can "cure" their depression by avoiding gluten. And note that going around and telling someone who is depressive to "just try a gluten-free diet, why don't you" can be actively harmful (as many other well-intentioned but ill-advised suggestions).
    – DevSolar
    Oct 7, 2019 at 11:31
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    @Rsf Psychiatrists. And friends who are on an (unrelated) gluten-free diet but also suffering from depression.
    – DevSolar
    Oct 7, 2019 at 11:44
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    @Rsf Also, people who know the exact cause and trigger for their depression, which has nothing to do with diet. And please take that advice from my first comment. This is not an area where armchair advice can do any good. We're not talking occasional sadness here, but an affliction that is driving people into despair for most of their lifes. Research and investigate all you want, but do not inflict theories and well-meant amateur advice on the actually afflicted that are struggling to get through yet another day. That is not helpful.
    – DevSolar
    Oct 7, 2019 at 11:53
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    @DecSolar Just wanted to let you know that, as someone with depression, I absolutly agree with what you said. Thank you for takong the time to post that and I hope more people will realize that "armchair advices" are definitively not good and not helping
    – Ælis
    Oct 7, 2019 at 12:02
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    Related: Are gut bacteria a cause of depression?
    – DevSolar
    Oct 7, 2019 at 12:45

1 Answer 1


Gluten-free diet and depression in individuals with NON-CELIAC GLUTEN SENSITIVITY

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity refers to intestinal and other symptoms related to the ingestion of gluten in the absence of celiac disease and wheat allergy.

The article from the question mentions few studies in which gluten-free diet was associated with less depression in individuals with non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Such association was also observed in one 2018 systematic review:

...gluten-free diet (GFD) significantly improved pooled depressive symptom scores in GFD-treated patients...There was a tendency towards worsening symptoms for non-coeliac gluten sensitive patients during a blinded gluten challenge vs. placebo.

Gluten-free diet and depression in individuals with CELIAC DISEASE

Gluten-free diet may not necessary reduce depression in those with celiac disease:

In patients on gluten‐free diet, in fact, fatigue tends to be reduced in intensity while depression seems to persist or even worsen, supporting recent observations that gluten‐free diet alone fails to significantly reduce the percentage of CD [celiac disease] patients affected by depression. (Aliment Pharmacol Ther., 2005)

In celiac disease, depression may not be related directly to the disease pathology:

In coeliac disease, affective disorders should be ascribed to difficulties in adjusting to the chronic nature of the disease rather than directly to the disease itself...(Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol., 2003)

Diet and depression in GENERAL POPULATION

Six recent systematic reviews about the effect of various diets on depression (2013-1, 2013-2, 2019-1, 2019-2, 2019-3, 2019-4) do not even mention gluten.

In conclusion, there is some evidence about the association between gluten-free diet and reduced depression in some individuals with non-celiac gluten sensitivity but not in others.

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