Emotional Impact

More than skin deep.

Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis (together called psoriatic disease) affects your child physically and emotionally. Talking about feelings is just as important as managing the physical aspects.

 
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What Can I Do?

Be supportive, but don’t focus too much on the disease.

If you use embarrassed or negative tones, your child may feel that psoriatic disease is something to be ashamed of. It isn’t.

Acknowledge the management aspects of the disease, but focus more on your child as an individual and his day-to-day accomplishments, such as “What happened in school today?” or “Wow, you played a great game tonight.”

Help your child identify and express feelings. Depending on the age, emojis may help. Does your child feel anger, frustration or confusion as to why it’s happening again, or like it’s her fault because they did something to cause the flare? Does she ask, “Why me?”

Reassure your child that these emotions are normal. He didn’t do anything wrong. Talk about potential triggers and make journal notes in a symptom tracker to discuss with your child’s doctor. You could say, “Having psoriasis is just like having blue eyes or brown hair. It’s part of who you are. It’s not your fault.” Or, “It’s not clear why some people have it and others don’t.”

Be careful what you say about your child covering up signs of psoriasis. Encouraging your child to cover up may make her feel like she is different and that you are embarrassed. Let your child decide if she wants to flaunt her flares and teach others about the disease. If your child feels more comfortable covering up, let her make that choice.

Bullying

Sometimes kids with psoriasis become a target for teasing or bullying because they’re perceived as being different.

Signs your child is being bullied:

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Social Behavior

Social withdrawal, loss of friends, loss of interest in school accompanied by missed school days and declining grades

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Daily Routine Changes

Changes in eating or sleeping habits, vague health complaints

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Harmful Thoughts or Actions

If your child exhibits self-destructive behaviors such as harming themselves or talking about suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 800-273-8255.

Talk with your child about the situation and how he could respond positively. Bullying can make children feel helpless. They fear retaliation or being rejected by peers. They don’t want to be seen as weak or as someone who tells on others. Reassure your child that it’s OK to ask for help and that bullying is not OK. It’s also not OK to physically engage a bully. Someone could get hurt. Encourage your child to ignore the encounter when possible and ask for help.

If bullying is occurring at school, speak with your child’s teachers, principal, or counselors. Present information about the disease to school staff and your child’s classmates. To request a school presentation, email ourspot@psoriasis.org.

If your child is under 16, monitor their social media use. Cyberbullying is real and harmful.

Unfortunately, bullying can increase your child’s stress level, which may make psoriasis worse. This in turn makes psoriasis more challenging to treat, which can then exacerbate bullying. Help your child learn coping skills to address bullying and reduce stress.

Depression

People with psoriatic disease are at higher risk for developing depression. It’s important as a parent to recognize the signs of depression and obtain help for your child. Depression in youth is often misdiagnosed.

Here are some specific signs to watch for (some are similar to the signs of bullying):

  • Continuous feelings of sadness and hopelessness, increased sensitivity to rejection, irritability or anger, fatigue
  • Social withdrawal, loss of friends, loss of interest in school accompanied by missed school days and declining grades
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits, vague health complaints

If you suspect your child is depressed and the symptoms persist for more than a couple of weeks, ask for help. Talk with your child’s teacher to see if she's noticed a change in behavior. Find a mental health care professional who can help diagnose the depression and offer treatment options. 

Dealing With Your Own Emotions

Here are some of the best tips from families that successfully cope with psoriatic disease:

  • Learn to accept the diagnosis. Move on, however long it takes. Your attitude can affect your child if they sense frustration, negative thoughts or guilt. Focus on what you can do to keep your child as healthy and happy as possible.
  • Learn to divide tasks. Take turns going to the doctor for appointments or involve siblings in tasks. Also, there’s no reason why your child can’t sleep over at a friend’s house or stay with grandparents for the weekend.
  • Don’t lose sight of your own needs. Maintain meaningful relationships with other adults, family and friends. To be strong for your child, you must have a strong inner self. Take care of yourself before you start to feel resentment and anger.

Get More Tips 

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Emotional Impact of Psoriatic Disease

Studies show that people with psoriatic disease are more likely to experience feelings of depression and anxiety. We are here to help you and your family navigate the emotional impact of this disease.

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