BMJ Case Reports 2016; doi:10.1136/bcr-2016-216825

Case of coeliac disease presenting in the psychiatry ward

  1. J Bernardo Barahona-Corrêa1,2
  1. 1Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, Centro Hospitalar de Lisboa Ocidental and NOVA Medical School | Faculdade de Ciências Médicas, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Lisboa, Portugal
  2. 2Champalimaud Research and Clinical Centre, Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, Lisboa, Portugal
  3. 3Department of Pathology, Centro Hospitalar de Lisboa Ocidental, Lisboa, Portugal
  1. Correspondence to Prof. Albino Oliveira-Maia, albino.maia{at}
  • Accepted 29 November 2016
  • Published 21 December 2016


We describe a case of coeliac disease that was diagnosed in the psychiatry inpatient unit of a general hospital. The patient was admitted due to suicidal behaviours and developed an agitated catatonic state while in the inpatient psychiatry unit. An extensive diagnostic study allowed for the diagnosis of coeliac disease and while her state was unresponsive to antidepressants, anxiolytics, antipsychotics and electroconvulsive therapy, the patient improved significantly when a gluten-free diet was started. While it is well known that, occasionally, gluten sensitivity and coeliac disease can present as brain gluten sensitivity, such cases are typically characterised by motor and/or cognitive symptoms and by white matter abnormalities. Psychiatric presentations of these conditions have only rarely been reported.


  • Contributors AO-M, IA and BBC were responsible for clinical care delivered to the patient. AO-M wrote the case report that was critically reviewed and approved by all authors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Register for free content

The full text of all Editor's Choice articles and summaries of every article are free without registration

The full text of Images in ... articles are free to registered users

Only fellows can access the full text of case reports (apart from Editor's Choice) - become a fellow today, or encourage your institution to, so that together we can grow and develop this resource

Don't forget to sign up for content alerts so you keep up to date with all the case reports as they are published, and let us know what you think by commenting on the Editor's blog

Navigate This Article