Psoriasis is a very common skin condition caused by over activity of the immune system. The disease is known to be chronic, appearing at certain times of year and then disappearing, coming and going over a lifetime.
Psoriasis causes skin cells to grow too quickly, resulting in buildup on the skin’s surface that becomes itchy, scaly and dry. Those with this condition often also have stiff joints and thick nails. Depending on the individual, this condition can be mild or extreme. It can flare up for a period of weeks or months and then go into remission.
If symptoms don’t improve or become worse, treatment should be sought. Often, topical corticosteroids, moisturizers and topical retinoids go a long way in treating the condition.
New Psoriasis Research Study
Recently, a study was done by a team of researchers in Denmark and South Korea which found that coping with psoriasis may increase the likelihood of a mental health disorder. The risk is due to the impact the disorder has on the sufferer. Since it is a chronic disorder, it can cause frequent stress as the condition flares up multiple times.
Handling the disorder itself is also stressful—the sufferer must live with the disorder, manage it and deal with the physical discomfort. For those who have severe cases, the physical nature of the disorder may cause embarrassment. Constant trips to the doctor’s office can also take its toll.
The study cautions that patients who are treated for psoriasis should also have regular mental health checkups. Because the disorder can also increase the risk of other medical conditions like digestive issues, mood disorders and fatigue, it’s important to keep an eye on the mental state of the patient as well, especially if they are battling more than one medical issue.
Factors Affecting Mental Health
The study found that mental health conditions like sleep disorders, anxiety and depression were higher in patients who suffered from psoriasis. Depression rates were also higher. In particular, the study found that 17 percent of patients were more likely to suffer from depression if they also had psoriasis.
Stress factors on the skin are inextricably linked, creating a mind-body connection, as psoriasis can be a psychosocial skin disease and any external stress begins to make the disorder worse. Psychiatric conditions like anxiety can contribute to psoriasis flare-ups, causing the patient to feel worse both physically and emotionally, thus contributing to the cycle of stress, psychological disorder and psoriasis.
Also, some treatments used in psoriasis cases like TNF antagonists may possibly lead to manic or hypomanic episodes. Therefore, patients should be screened for mental health disorders, especially if the patient’s family has any history of mental illness.
Those receiving treatment for psoriasis should let their doctors know if they feel any changes in mood or mental health. By doing so, the patient can then find care related to those issues with a proper mental health care professional. Keeping stress levels as low as possible also helps to keep the disorder in check and lessen the cycle of stress and flare-ups.