Psoriasis and Mental Health: The Vicious Cycle

Psoriasis and Mental Health

Generally, psoriasis patients, along with skin problems, often experience mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and feeling of guilt,  shame, or helplessness. They may also feel sinking self-esteem in addition to anger.

Let’s see how psoriasis leads to mental health problems.

Mental Health and Psoriasis

Worldwide extensive research has shown that psoriasis and mental health are somehow interconnected. Results of a case study show that 16.5% of American patients with psoriasis experienced depression regardless of the severity of the disease. 

Another study reveals that individuals having psoriasis are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, and sleeping disorders than those without psoriasis. 

How Psoriasis Affects Mental Health 

As we discussed above psoriasis often affects mental health, but how exactly it happens and the mechanism is still unknown. However, a few reasons and biological mechanisms might be implicated. 

For instance, if you are suffering from psoriasis and anxiety at the same time, it might be due to the following symptoms:

  • Chronic itching  
  • Skin appearance due to itching and associated stigma 
  • Fear of lacking social support 

Suppose a person worries all the time about how people perceive them. In that case, this might trigger the stress system, especially the amygdala, which releases stress hormones, including cortisol, that initiates a vicious cycle. The stress targets psoriasis flare-ups that worsen the situation further and increase stress. In some cases, skin treatment dissatisfaction also leads to depression. Moreover, some people undergo depression when they can not enjoy the physical activities they used to before psoriasis because of pain or due to the fear that they will spread psoriasis to other people. 

However, there might be some biological reasons behind the depression in psoriasis patients. For instance, psoriasis and stress both are linked with high levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines,  such as Interleukin (IL)-1B, tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and IL-6. These proteins are responsible for stimulating the immune system response. 

Another possible biological mechanism is that depression causes reduced melatonin levels, resulting in anti-inflammatory effects. So people with skin disorders such as psoriasis may have low melatonin levels.

Psoriasis Treatment and Mental Health

Getting treated for psoriasis often improves a person’s mental health condition. If the treatment is effective in clearing the larger portions of psoriasis, this makes the individual feel healthy and confident about themselves. 

Also, less pain will allow the person to participate in social gatherings and physical activities that further boost self-esteem. In case treating skin conditions won’t work for a person, then doctors usually refer a patient to a psychiatrist for evaluation. 

Ways to Manage Your Mental Health during Psoriasis

In order to feel better, here are a few questions a person needs to ask themselves to figure out how psoriasis affects their mental health.

  • Do they feel good or anxious about their appearance
  • How do they feel during breakouts
  • Do they worry about what others will think of their appearance
  • Does the person still feel anxiety even though their psoriasis is well managed
  • Does that make them upset if they can not participate in their favorite activities due to pain
  • Does psoriasis make you avoid social gatherings

Once you start understanding how psoriasis affects your mental health, consult a therapist to figure it out further. Doing this will help you reduce the symptoms and recover faster. 

Bottom Line 

To sum up, mental health concerns are common in psoriasis patients. But discussing their feelings with a therapist will surely help them get the right treatment and go towards betterment.

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