Gluten and Anxiety – Is There a Connection?

Gluten and AnxietyI started on a gluten free diet a few days ago. I have  a form of hypothyroidism called Hahimotio’s thyroiditis. My sister was recently diagnosed with hypothyroidism too (it can run in families) and it was recommended that she try a gluten free diet. She started having relief of some of her symptoms within a week, which was why I decided to try this too.

I have been doing some investigating to see if there is a link between gluten and anxiety, and from what I have found, I think there is.

When Jody Smith started a gluten free diet, she got relief of her IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome) and was happily surprised that her panic and anxiety, which had plagued her for most of her life- simply “melted away.” – Source

On the forum I found many posts similar to this one:

I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder many years ago, and going gluten free knocked it out completely. I have had probably two attacks since then, both of them after being glutened.

…and this one:

My panic attacks started 28 yrs ago, although I had been sick for a few years before that. I have been gluten-free for 8 yrs, and my panic attacks are very rare now, and yes, I have panic attacks if I get glutened too.

I too was on Xanax, which I still keep on hand (be aware, not all Xanax is gluten-free), and then I was on Paxil for several years. I still had panic attacks while on these meds, until I went gluten-free.

I was diagnosed as having panic attacks, anticipatory anxiety, and agoraphobia, before going gluten-free. It didn’t matter where I was, I would get panic attacks. Walking into a store, going to a meeting at school for the kids, a party, a doctor’s appt, sitting in traffic was terrible for me. Now, I live in one of the worse traffic areas there are, and I do very well.


Just what is gluten? Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, oats, barley, rye, bulgar, and most processed foods. I quickly learned that gluten was present in just about every food I love and live on- cereal, pasta, bread, my beloved Cheese Doodles, bagels, cakes, cookies, etc. etc. 🙁

If gluten and anxiety are linked, it would make perfect sense that I’m anxious- I am a carbohydrate and junk food junkie. In other words, I am loaded with gluten…

So while I love my bagels and pasta and Cheetos, I hate having panic attacks and being riddled with anxiety. So it was with hopeful optimism I started eating only gluten free foods.

Today is day 4 of eating gluten free, and I honestly do think I feel better.

I went to the gym this morning and grocery shopping later on like I usually do, and I had absolutely no anxiety. Last night at my Al-Anon meeting, I was able to sit around the table and share without having to hurry up and stop because I felt panic rising up in me.

Nothing else has changed in my life. I am not doing anything differently from usual, except not tinning foods with gluten in them. And let me just say that end of the summer is usually pretty hard for me. I am anxious to get the kids back to school and I do feel cooped up from not having regular employment outside the home.

But even with that thrown in the mix, I feel better. Less anxious. And I definitely have not had the palpitations I usually get during the day and while laying in bed at night. My heart palpitations were so disturbing and frequent that I paid my doctor to hook me up to a 24 hour Holter monitor last spring. (It showed nothing, big surprise…)

So I have to say, so far I am giving this gluten free diet 2 enthusiastic thumbs up.:)

And I would like to throw it out there for your consideration:

If you are being treated for hypothyroidism or Hashimotos thyroiditis, or if anyone you are related to is wheat intolerant or has Celiac disease, you may get relief of your anxiety and panic attacks from trying a gluten free diet.

I am very interested to hear your thoughts on this.Living Gluten Free for Dummies

I wish you peace,
Jill G.

ps.- Recommended resource: Living Gluten Free for Dummies

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4 Responses to Gluten and Anxiety – Is There a Connection?

  1. zoe says:

    Oh my Jill! My mom and sister are both gluten free. My sister was misdiagnosed with Chron’s disease, then IBS. But she has celiac and her symptoms go away when she sticks to her gluten free diet. This is a connection I had never heard before. Thanks for the info – I will be looking into it more. Good luck with your experiment. I know it is hard to stick to a diet that does not include bread especially! Good for you! Keep us posted please!

  2. Sher says:

    Thank you for your article and the things you’ve discovered along your own healing journey. I feel so AWFUL (anxiety mostly) after eating gluten and every time I tell myself, “I am NOT eating gluten again!” .. Then a few hours pass, I get hungry again and I think, “Well, maybe “this time” it won’t be so bad!” 🙁 At MY age.. (44) you’d think I’d have learned a thing or two. As I write, I am passing through gluten-anxiety, and found your article and wanted to say “thank you”.

    have a happy, healthy week!

  3. Pingback: panic attacks gluten - Anxiety Directory

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