A recent study published in the British Journal of Dermatology reported an increased risk of depression among women with psoriasis. A research team at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston conducted a prospective cohort study investigating the risk of incident depression in patients with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.
The researchers applied data from a total of 50,750 US female nurses participating in the Nurses’ Health Study who were free of depression at baseline in 2000. Depression was defined as “self-report of clinician-diagnosed depression or regular use of anti-depressant medication.” They found that after adjusting for covariates like body mass index (BMI), physical activity, smoking, and the presence of major chronic conditions, the adjusted relative risk of clinical depression was 1.29 for women with psoriasis and 1.52 for women with psoriasis and concomitant psoriatic arthritis vs. women without psoriasis.
Psoriasis is definitely more than just a physical condition; it can also affect your emotional health. According to a survey from the National Psoriasis Foundation, 63 percent of all people with psoriasis said it greatly affects their emotional well-being. It’s a vicious cycle. Stress can aggravate psoriasis and cause symptoms to worsen. When the psoriasis flares, it can then exacerbate your emotional concerns sometimes resulting in depression, which starts the whole cycle all over again.
If you are suffering from psoriasis, there are things you can do to avoid it taking over your mental health as well.
- One Day at a Time – don’t think about what it’s going to be like in 10 days or 30 days or five months. Try to live in the present.
- Seek Support – find a support group for psoriasis sufferers. Reaching out to and talking with others who know exactly what you’re going through can be beneficial.
- Reduce Stress – stress can be a major trigger for psoriasis and depression. Knowing how to reduce stress in your life is important. Be sure you’re getting enough sleep and exercising. Consider taking yoga or tai chi to help shift your focus away from what’s bothering you.
- Soak Up Some Sun – light therapy is a common treatment for both mood disorders and psoriasis. Just being outside can lift your spirits. You’ll still need to protect yourself from skin cancer, so after 15-20 minutes, be sure to apply sunscreen.
- Eat Healthy Foods.Choose a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and fish. Eat lots of whole grains and not much fat or sugar. Skip the processed and fried foods. This diet will help you to maintain a healthy weight, which is important for your heart health and your self-esteem. Plus, a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce psoriasis symptoms.
- Seek Professional Help – Recognize when you need professional help and find it. If you’re feeling down and not able to complete your day-to-day activities, if you’re not enjoying the things you used to enjoy, and if your depressed mood lasts more than two weeks, you should find a mental health professional who can help.
Dommasch ED, et al. Risk of Depression in Women with Psoriasis: A Cohort Study. British Journal of Dermatology. 2015; doi: 10.1111/bjd.14032.