As someone suffering from psoriasis, you may be highly conscious of how others may perceive you1. Will they think that your condition is contagious? Or are they afraid of being close to you or touching you? Because of that, your self-esteem may suffer. Consequently, you may begin to feel less enthusiastic about work or other social and physical activities, and experience the urge to withdraw.
To make things worse, recurring flare-ups or ineffective management of the disease could prompt feelings of despair – you may feel as though your skin will never clear up. The accompanying pain could also deter you from participating in a lot of activities.
Due to these factors, some studies show that psoriasis patients are at a significantly greater risk of attempting or thinking about suicide2. This effect is more pronounced in patients with severe psoriasis.
Younger Psoriasis Patients Are at Greater Risk
Although depression can happen at any age, it is much more likely to strike in one’s youth3.
A large study with about 850,000 participants indicated that younger psoriasis patients are likely to experience higher suicidal behavior compared to older patients4. According to medical experts, this risk factor may be due to a less-developed coping mechanism and a tendency toward impulsivity5.
This is completely understandable. It is an age where people undergo intense scrutiny while trying to find their place in the world. Psoriasis may turn them into “targets” for being different. This may cause them to encounter bullying, experience performance-related anxieties, or develop a habit of shutting people out.
Measure How Psoriasis is Impacting Your Life
If you’re unsure how psoriasis is affecting your quality of life, take a simple questionnaire called Dermatology Quality of Life Index, DLQI. It is an easy and practical measure routinely used in clinics, applicable to patients of every age and gender6.
This tool may assist you in discussions regarding your emotional health and coping strategies with your dermatologist. It will help him or her understand your struggles, which are useful considerations when deciding on a treatment strategy.
A Dermatologist’s Weighs in on Psoriasis and Depression
Depression is common among psoriasis patients. When you have severe psoriasis, harmful thoughts and negative feelings are not uncommon. Depression is one of the leading comorbidities associated with the disease.
Discuss and share how psoriasis affects you emotionally and psychologically.
Establishing a strong physician-patient relationship is the foundation of effective psoriasis treatment. By confiding in your dermatologist during consultation, you will potentially improve your mental and psychological state, not to mention get the best treatment outcomes.
Common symptoms of depression. Watch out for changes in body weight, sleeping problems, loss of interest in hobbies, friends, and work. Teenagers and young adults are more prone to becoming depressed.
A dermatologist’s treatment plan for psoriasis patients with depression. Reducing the severity of psoriasis and helping you achieve clear/almost clear skin so that you can lead a normal life is the primary strategy. You may be referred to a psychiatrist or a patient support group to improve your physical and mental health.
Medication for depression. A dermatologist does not prescribe such medication. Ideally, you will be referred to a psychiatrist if there is such a need. Discuss treatment options for depression with a psychiatrist.
Do Not Hesitate to Reach Out
If you have psoriasis, do not suffer in silence. Psoriasis symptoms are manageable and there are many treatment plans to fit your needs. If you are struggling to regain control over your skin condition, consider talking to your dermatologist or reaching out to a psychiatrist to maintain your mental wellbeing.
Additionally, have open conversations with people who care about you. Understand that people may not always realise that you need help unless you ask.
Also, be vigilant about your symptoms and inform your dermatologist, psychiatrist, family, or friends if you currently feel overwhelming sadness in your battle with psoriasis. You may not be able to see immediate changes in your life, but you certainly can change how you react to your situation. Improving your psoriasis and quality of life starts with you.
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