It's been said that depression is the no. 1 comorbidity of psoriasis. People with psoriasis are twice as likely to become depressed as the rest of the population. Doctors believe that the biological changes that cause psoriasis may also cause depression. The stigma of visible psoriasis also can make people depressed, said Dr. Jerry Bagel, a dermatologist at Columbia University.
Depression can have a significant impact on quality of life. People with psoriasis also are more likely to have suicidal thoughts and attempt suicide. It's important to look out for symptoms of depression and seek treatment if you need it.
If you have any of the following symptoms, talk to your doctor.
- Inability to sleep
- Feeling like you can't get out of bed
- Loss of energy
- Lack of interest in things you used to enjoy
- Inability to focus
Bagel also asks his patients if they always wear long-sleeved shirts when they leave the house and if they ever wear black. These questions help Bagel determine if patients feel socially isolated or stigmatized by the psoriasis plaques and flakes. You also can screen yourself for depression. Be sure to take your results to your doctor.
For tips on how to communicate with your doctor, contact NPF's Patient Navigation Center. We are the world's first, personalized support center for psoriatic disease, and we provide free and confidential help.
People with psoriasis use anti-depressant at a much higher rate than patients without psoriasis. While using anti-depressants and seeing a mental health professional can help, the best way to improve your quality of life is to take control of your psoriasis, Bagel said.
Bagel said the patients who are able to manage their psoriasis report a higher quality of life, less absenteeism at work and are more productive employees. This is the case regardless of the treatment—phototherapy, topical treatments, systemic drugs or biologics.
Some studies have shown that people using biologics to treat psoriasis report lower levels of depression. It's unclear if that's because of changes in the body or due to improvement of the psoriasis.
If you are struggling to take control of your psoriasis, or feel that your depression is due to another cause, consider making an appointment with a psychologist. If you need help finding a psychologist who specializes in issues related to psoriatic disease, contact NPF's Patient Navigation Center.