Psoriasis is a serious chronic condition with a host of side effects, both direct and indirect. Scientists around the world have been working to uncover potential treatments and how to improve the lives of people who have it.
For years researchers suspected that there might be a link between psoriasis and depression, which researchers with the American Academy of Dermatology have now affirmed—people who have psoriasis are at a greater risk of suffering from depression. Looking at a pool of more than 12,000 people, they found that 16.5 percent of psoriasis sufferers experienced major depression — about double that of those without psoriasis.
The study leader Dr Roger believes that the increased depression is likely tied to the stigma of psoriasis and the societal impact of the skin disorder (https://healthline.com./health/psoriasis/psoriasis/research-ofthe-year#3)
As previously stated, psoriasis is a common skin condition that speeds up the life cycle of skin cells. It causes cells to build up rapidly on the surface of the skin. The extra skin cells form scales and red patches that are itchy and sometimes painful. Psoriasis is a chronic disease that often comes and goes. The main goal of treatment is to stop the skin cells from growing so quickly.
Depending on where it is on the body, psoriasis can be an embarrassing disease. People may not understand the condition and be frightened by it. Even good friends may refuse when a person with this condition offers to help them in the kitchen by chopping vegetables. The person may feel neglected.
Strober, co-director of the Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Center at New York University says, “Unfortunately, people’s ignorance of this disease is hard to overcome. It happens all the time that people with psoriasis won’t be allowed in a swimming pool, or that others will move away from them on a crowded train. It’s a shame.”
The psychological cost of psoriasis
Psoriasis can make the person feel deeply isolated and excluded, and that can have serious psychological costs. When it’s combined with the chronic discomfort, it can be difficult for them to deal with their emotions. Coping with psoriasis can create stress, and stress can make psoriasis get worse. There has even been some evidence that worrying about psoriasis may make treatment less effective. This can become a vicious cycle.
“Psoriasis has a tremendous impact on quality of life,” says Strober. He says studies have shown that psoriasis detracts more from quality of life than any other condition except depression — and that’s including life-threatening illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes.
A 2009 National Psoriasis Foundation survey found that 63% of respondents said their condition affected their emotional well-being. Obviously, psoriasis is much more than just a skin condition.
While it might seem like great advice to ignore other people’s reactions to your psoriasis, that’s not realistic for most people. We’re all dependent on others. Even the most self-confident among us are affected by how people see us.
One thing that might help is to try explaining psoriasis to other people. Explain that it’s not contagious and that it has nothing to do with poor hygiene. Explain that it’s an incurable lifelong condition but that the person is being treated for it. It’s especially important that family and friends understand this.
Educating people, of course, isn’t practical in every casual situation. There are times when you’ll have to ignore the stares. No one should have to spend his or her life being a cheerful spokesperson for psoriatic understanding.
If the person with psoriasis experiences feelings of hopelessness and it is making her miserable, it is best to seek professional help. If possible, find a therapist who’s treated people with psoriasis before. The doctor might be able to make a recommendation. In some cases, antidepressant medications may also help the person to cope.
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Another option is to seek out a support group, either in person or on the internet. Talking to people dealing with the same condition might make the person feel a lot better and less lonely and they might also learn good tips from others about dealing with and treating this condition.
One of the best things you can do is to keep going to the doctor. Feeling depressed may make you want to give up and retreat from life, but that isn’t a real option. You have to keep fighting and stay involved in your treatment. Several newer treatments can clear your skin rapidly.
“People with psoriasis have to know that they’re not alone,” says Jeffrey M. Weinberg, MD, director of the Clinical Research Center at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City. “And although we can’t offer a cure at this time, we do have the options to improve it.”