The article is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.

Mood fluctuations from mania to depression are common symptoms of bipolar disorder, which is a serious mental illness. Treatment options include medication and counseling for those with the condition.

Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity forums are frequently frequented by people with bipolar illness who have found relief from their symptoms through a gluten-free diet. People with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity may have a greater risk of bipolar disorder than the general population, according to two studies in the medical literature.

More research is needed before it can be determined whether a gluten-free diet will help certain people with bipolar disorder, as there are many probable correlations between gluten intake and mental problems.

Some People with Bipolar Disorder Have Anti-Gluten Antibodies

Anti-gluten antibodies in the blood of persons with bipolar disorder have only been studied in a few of medical investigations to this point in time.

Researchers assessed 102 patients with bipolar disorder and 173 persons without a psychiatric illness in the most comprehensive study, which was published in 2011.

The antibodies AGA-IgG and AGA-IgA, which are not particular to celiac disease but can be used as gluten sensitivity tests, were tested by the researchers. Deamidated antibodies to tTG-IgA and tTG-IgG were also tested, which are regarded to be particularly sensitive diagnostics for celiac disease.

When compared to people without bipolar illness, those with elevated levels of IgG antibodies to gluten had a considerably higher risk, according to the findings of the study.

A high prevalence of celiac disease-related laboratory results was found in bipolar patients, although these results were not statistically significant. Antibody levels in persons with bipolar disorder were not linked to their overall symptoms, medical history, digestive problems, or usage of specific psychiatric drugs.

The celiac disease gene was found in nearly half of patients with bipolar illness, however those who had the gene did not have higher levels of anti-gluten antibodies. Visit BetterHelp to learn more about how food can have an impact on mental health.

A Second Study Examines Mania And Anti-Gluten Antibodies

In March 2012, the same group of investigators published a study examining the prevalence of gluten sensitivity and celiac disease in bipolar disorder’s acute mania.

There was an increase in IgG anti-gluten antibodies, but not in other celiac disease-specific antibodies, among patients hospitalized for manic episodes.

IgG antibody levels in bipolar patients decreased six months after they were released from the hospital, but they did not differ substantially from those in the control group. After six months, those bipolar patients who still had high levels of IgG were significantly greater at risk of being admitted for mania.

Managing individuals with acute mania could be improved by monitoring and reducing gluten sensitivity, according to the study. One of the studies, published in 2008, didn’t particularly look at the link between gluten and bipolar disorder; instead it looked at the prevalence of other psychiatric illnesses in children with celiac disease or positive blood tests.

About 2% of children with celiac or gluten sensitivity had neurological or psychiatric issues, which was slightly greater than the 1% of control participants who had these issues.

Is Gluten To Blame For Bipolar Disorder?

If gluten does play a role in bipolar disorder, it has to be studied further. Some anti-gluten antibody concentrations were higher greater in persons with bipolar disorder, but not all of them were, according to the researchers who conducted the first study.

Celiac disease may have some pathobiological features in common with bipolar disorder.   Bipolar disorder may have a distinct mechanism for an elevated antibody response to gluten compared to celiac disease.

For now, experts believe that gluten proteins and the heightened immune response to them do not play a role in the pathogenesis of bipolar illness or have the potential to be utilized as biomarkers of diagnosis of the disease or activity. Bipolar illness patients with high anti-gluten antibodies should be studied on gluten-free diets in future research.