Mental Awareness Month: 3 Ways Psoriasis Effects Mental Health and How to Manage It

Patient Expert
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As someone who suffers from psoriasis, every time someone would ask me to do something that required showing my skin, I would have an anxiety attack. _I’d worry about what a person would think and pretty soon I would was no longer feeling good about myself as I start to ask why I had to deal with this terrible disease. _

Overwhelmed with emotion, my hands would sweat, heart would race, and my head would begin to hurt. Some of the places where I would experience these bouts of anxiety are the spa, clothes shopping, school and even church.

Over time, these responses affected how I felt about myself. Self-esteem is defined as how individuals view themselves and how they feel about who they are as a person. And with standards of beauty often emphasizing size, looks, and flawless skin, you can imagine how it can negatively affect the self-esteem of those with psoriasis.

Because of my psoriaisis, it took me a long time to feel beautiful and even then it’s constantly a work in progress. Low self-esteem can affect the way one interacts with others and, if not addressed, can create discord among peers.

So it should be no surprise then, that most people who experience anxiety attacks and lowered self-esteem can easily slip into depression. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America defines depression as, “a condition in which a person feels discouraged, sad, hopeless, unmotivated, or disinterested in life in general.” And if you talk to anyone who has psoriasis, they can often relate. Research conducted by a team of doctors have even found that those with psoriasis are twice as likely to have thoughts of suicide and that at least 60 percent of psoriasis patients have reported mental issues such as depression due to their disease.

Ways to manage the emotional strain of psoriasis

There are several ways you can manage mental health. I for one am a huge advocate for therapy and counseling as they can help you come to terms with the different feelings you experience. Many companies will pay for therapy sessions and some insurance companies will even provide such services for free or at a very low price. The Samaritan counseling center, for example, offers services based on a sliding scale for as low as $25 a session.

Here are some other things that helped me manage the mental aspect of my disease:* ** Journaling:** Even when I don’t have the courage to talk to someone, I found that writing out my feelings can be therapeutic by allowing me to reflect on any emotions I’m experiencing at the moment.

  • Support Groups: Surrounding yourself with those who can relate can help you through your struggle. I enjoy taking part in online support groups.

  • Don’t Isolate Yourself: People often feel depressed when they are alone in own thoughts. Surround yourself with others as much as possible.

  • Don’t Stress: Find ways to de-stress your life. Exercise and/or indulge in hobbies that you enjoy.

Sources:

Facts and Statistics on Anxiety Disorders: http://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics
Psoriasis and Mental Health Briefing:https://www.psoriasis.org/sites/default/files/psoriasis_and_mental_health_issue_brief-_one-pager_20140225.pdf
The physical, psychological, and social impact of psoriasis: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22013093


Alisha Bridges has battled with severe psoriasis for over 20 years and is the face behind Being Me in My Own Skin, a blog which highlights her life with psoriasis. Her goals are to create empathy and compassion for those who are least understood, through transparency of self, patient advocacy, and healthcare. She is currently a post-bach student at Georgia State University pursuing a career as a Physician's Assistance—her passions are dermatology and sexual health. Alisha also shares her passion as a Social Ambassador of the Psoriasis HealthCentral Facebook page where she shares timely tips, stories and insights on living with psoriasis. You can also find Alisha on Twitter.