People with psoriasis have a high risk of developing depression. One study found the risk of major depression doubled in those who had psoriasis.
Researchers did not find a link between the severity and the disease and the risk of depression, leading them to speculate that the stigma and self-consciousness surrounding psoriasis might contribute to depression. But this might not be the only reason. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, “the biological changes that cause psoriasis may also cause depression.”
Learn about and get treatment for psoriasisThere are different types of treatment for psoriasis: phototherapy, topical treatments, systemic drugs and biologic medications. If you haven’t done so, it might be time to** talk with your dermatologist about the pros and cons of each type of treatment**. Then, work together to decide what is best.
You might find one treatment works better for you than another. You might find a combination of treatments and lifestyle choices work best. Some people find that using biologic medications can lessen feelings of depression, although it isn’t known whether the medication helps reduce depression or whether improved symptoms do.
Coping with the stigma of psoriasis
Psoriasis is very misunderstood. People that don’t know much about the disease become wary or downright scared when they see someone with psoriasis lesions.
Some people with psoriasis have been asked to leave a swimming pool or become uncomfortable when people on the street stare. Mary, a woman with psoriasis, shared with me how she has learned to live with the stigma of psoriasis.
Every day, Mary chooses an approach before leaving her house. Some days she decides to be a spokesperson, educating those she comes into contact with about the disease. Other days she holds her head up high and lets people stare. Other days she chooses to cover any lesions because she doesn’t have the energy to fight the stigma. But, she says, deciding ahead of time gives her control. She understands that she cannot control other people’s reactions, but she can control her own. By doing so, she takes control of her emotions. Each person needs to decide what works best for him or her.
Psoriasis does not define you
You might have a disease called psoriasis, but that isn’t who you are. There are many good things about you. Make a list of what you consider your positive qualities. When feeling down, focus on these instead of your disease.
Look for support
If you have signs of depression, such as changes in sleeping habits (too much or too little), feeling as if you don’t want to get out of bed in the morning, decreased energy, lack of interest in activities you used to enjoy, and difficulty focusing, it might be time to seek out professional help. Look for a psychologist who specializes in psoriatic disease. The National Psoriasis Foundation has a Patient Navigation Center to help you find someone in your area.
Support groups, either online or in-person, can also help. Support groups offer a safe place for you to discuss your symptoms and feelings. Support groups let you know that you aren’t alone and give you a sense of community and belonging.
Surround yourself with friends and relatives that accept you for who you are. Look for people who enjoy your company and like to spend time with you. While it might not be possible to always stay away from those who aren’t supportive, the more time you spend with people who value you as a person, the less those that don’t will matter.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of 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.