People with psoriasis are twice as likely to develop depression than those without the condition.
This finding was a part of a research study presented at the American Academy of Dermatology’s 2015 Summer Academy Meeting in August 2015. Researchers looked at the health records of over 12,000 adults and found that overall, around 8 percent indicated they suffered from depression. But for those with psoriasis, that number jumped to 16.5 percent.
What causes the link between depression and psoriasis?
There aren’t any clear answers on why there is a much higher risk of depression in those with psoriasis. Researchers didn’t look into why the association exists. Traditional theory suggests that living with psoriasis causes a great deal of stress and possibly isolation, both which can lead to depression.
The lead researcher, Roger Ho, indicated there might also be a biological reason for depression. It is possible that the disease itself or genetics may play a role in why depression is so common in those with psoriasis. However, further research would be needed to find out the reasons behind the connection. One of the reasons he believes there may be more to the connection than the emotional pain of living with psoriasis, is because the results did not change based on the severity of psoriasis symptoms, it seemed more linked to a person’s perception of him or herself than the severity of the condition.
What can you do?
Understanding there is higher risk of depression and knowing what to look for can help. Take time to learn about the main symptoms of depression. If you do notice any of these signs, talk to your doctor right away. Not treating depression can cause it to worsen.
Symptoms of depression:
Feelings of hopelessness
Loss of interest in activities, friends and other things you used to enjoy
Fatigue or feeling as if you have no energy or motivation
Changes in sleep patterns - sleeping too much or too little
Changes in eating patterns - eating too much or losing your appetite
Unexplained aches and pains
Seeking and monitoring your treatment for psoriasis is especially important. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, those who receive treatment and are able to manage their psoriasis report a better quality of life. There is also some studies which show that taking biologics for psoriasis can help lower levels of depression. If your psoriasis is causing you stress, causing you to isolate yourself or stopping you from doing things you enjoy, talk to your doctor and ask about all your treatment options so you can better manage the symptoms.
Other ways to help manage depression when you have psoriasis include:
- Practice stress management
- Reach out for support
- Surround yourself with supportive people
- Educate yourself and others about psoriasis
- Follow your treatment plan
- Take care of your physical health - eat right, get enough sleep, exercise each day
- Get little sun each day
If you are feeling depressed, seek out professional help.
Remember, you have psoriasis, but it does not define who you are.
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Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.