7 Tips for Improving Mental Health With Psoriasis
Approximately 1 to 2% of the population has psoriasis, a chronic inflammatory skin disease. It’s characterized by dry, red, scaly patches on the skin and can cause inflammation throughout the entire body. What’s especially unique about this condition is the link between psoriasis and mental health issues. Stress often triggers psoriasis flare-ups; plus, struggling with psoriasis creates extra stress for the individual and can lead to a cycle of anxiety, depression and physical discomfort.
A study published in the Archives of Dermatology discovered that people with psoriasis are 39% more likely to be diagnosed with depression and 31% more likely to receive an anxiety diagnosis. And according to the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF), the likelihood for psoriasis patients to have suicidal thoughts nearly doubles in comparison to the other people with chronic illnesses. They also report that 63% of people with psoriasis say it significantly affects their emotional health.
The depression and anxiety that psoriasis patients experience often interferes with motivation to stick with treatment and leads to unhealthy behaviors like overeating, alcohol abuse and social isolation. The good news is that when people work to control their psoriasis symptoms, they typically see an improvement in psychological symptoms. Many peope with psoriasis often benefit from psychological treatment for anxiety and depression.
The bottom line? When you’re dealing with a psoriasis diagnosis, the best outcomes result from a combination of physical treatment and mental health care.
If you or a loved one has psoriasis, these tried and true methods of managing stress, anxiety and depression can help.
1. Stress management. Successful techniques that have helped psorisasis patients include meditation, yoga, tai chi, exercise and deep breathing techniques. Also, try to simplify your routines to remove stress from your day-to-day in whatever way you can. The National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) has resources to help you deal with issues that cause stress, like finding the right health care, applying for disability, and handling work-related psoriasis issues.
2. Medication for anxiety and depression. It doesn’t hurt to seek temporary or long-term help via medication. Ask your primary care doctor to recommend a psychiatrist who can help you find a medication that works best for your needs and your body.
3. Behavioral therapy. Your doctor can recommend a psychologist to help you cope with psoriasis and the impact on your mental health. They can also help you build confidence in your strengths and learn to not dwell on your difficulties.
4. Support groups. Connect with other people who have psoriasis to learn how they maintain their mental wellbeing. The NPF can help you find a support group in your area, plus they have an online community that provides insight and encouragement. They also offer a Psoriasis One-to-One program that connects newly diagnosed people with people who have been living and thriving with psoriasis. This is good option if you don’t like to share in group settings.
5. Eat and sleep well. When you’re battling any health issue, mental or physical, it’s easier if your body is functioning at its best. Get plenty of sleep, exercise and eat quality foods that nourish you. The better you feel about your body in general, the less you’ll focus on your psoriasis. Taking care of your overall health also helps your immune system be better equipped to heal your skin.
6. Treat your psoriasis symptoms. This might seem obvious, but when you’re depressed it can be hard to get motivated to take care of your body. Studies show that people feel more in control as their condition improves, which helps relieve anxious feelings and improves mood and outlook on life.
7. Practice acceptance. Accepting your situation and trying to appreciate the positive things happening in your life can improve your attitude. One psoriasis patient reported that he felt better when he accepted that psoriasis was just one small part of who he was, instead of something that defined him.
Take the lead to address any emotional and mental difficulties you’re experiencing with psoriasis. Not all primary care doctors are trained to handle the mental health aspects of this condition, so don’t be afraid to ask for referrals and additional support. It’ll help you feel better mentally and help your body heal physically.