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The symptoms of psoriasis aren’t always just on your skin. The impact on many people’s mental health is less visible, but can be just as serious.
Research carried out by the National Psoriasis Foundation shows that people who have psoriasis are more likely to have depression than the rest of the population. The report also showed that women are more likely to struggle with the social and emotional side effects of psoriasis than men are1. Let’s take a closer look at the link between psoriasis and depression, and what you can do to take care of your mental health and emotional wellbeing if you have psoriasis.
What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a skin condition which causes patches of skin to be red and flaky, and covered with silvery scales. These patches can appear anywhere on the body and may be itchy and sore. Psoriasis is estimated to affect around 2% of people in the UK. It is equally common among men and women, and usually develops in people under the age of 352. It’s a chronic condition and the severity varies hugely from person to person – for some it’s a minor irritation and for others it has a major impact on their quality of life.
National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) report
The National Psoriasis Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation which aims to improve the lives of people with psoriasis, in part by increasing awareness and understanding of the condition. A recent report into the emotional and social aspects of living with psoriasis found that it has a huge impact on mental health. Psoriasis can visibly affect the skin on the face, arms, legs and, in some cases, genitals. Low self-esteem and anxiety are common among people who have psoriasis, and this can lead to depression
It found that 60% of women with psoriasis feel that their condition interferes with their ability to enjoy life, compared to 52% of men. 20% of women said that psoriasis is a very large problem in their everyday lives, compared to 12% of men. This disparity is thought to be due to the extra pressure on women to comply with narrow definitions of beauty and attractiveness1.
Living with psoriasis
Your doctor or dermatologist will be aware of, and sympathetic to, the impact that living with psoriasis can have on your mental health and emotional wellbeing. It is a good idea to speak to them about how you feel, as they are well placed to make suggestions or direct you to further help.
Practising self-care is a crucial part of managing psoriasis, and preventing it from taking over your life. It's important to keep up your treatment, even if your skin improves, as this will help to prevent flare-ups. Self-care also includes staying fit, maintaining a healthy diet and taking steps to look after your mental health, such as having therapy or counselling. Taking regular exercise is also one of the best things you can do to reduce stress and anxiety, and improve your mood3.
You can learn more about psoriasis from our Q&A with specialist consultant dermatologists.To find out more about our dermatology services please see our dedicated page.
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