How Psoriatic Arthritis Affects Your Mental Health

Joint pain and swelling may not be the only symptoms you need to watch out for.

As if dealing with flaky patches on your skin, joint pain and swelling weren’t enough, you can also add depression and anxiety to the list of symptoms associated with having psoriatic arthritis.

Researchers from the University of Toronto surveyed 306 people with psoriatic arthritis and 135 people with psoriasis about their mental health. The results revealed that more than 36% of participants with psoriatic arthritis had anxiety and 22% had depression. That’s compared to roughly 24% and 9% in participants with psoriasis alone. (And, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation, people with psoriasis are twice as likely as the general population to suffer from depression.) The study was published in The Journal of Rheumatology. 

The Psoriasis-Mental Health Connection

Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis can take a toll on a person’s mental health in several ways. In the study, participants with worse disability, pain and fatigue were more likely to experience depression and anxiety. Additionally, there’s the stigma of the disease—worrying whether people will see your psoriasis patches, and what they’ll think—that can affect mental health. Experts also think the inflammation that attacks the skin and joints in psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis patients may affect the brain as well, which could lead to depression.

Understanding Signs of Depression and Anxiety

Worryingly, the Toronto study also found that only one in four people with psoriatic arthritis were receiving treatment for their depression and anxiety, bringing to light the need for increased awareness of the warning signs of both conditions. Be on the lookout for the following:

Depression Symptoms:

  • Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
  • Lack of energy
  • Disinterest in normally enjoyable activities
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Recurrent thoughts of suicide 

Anxiety Symptoms:

  • Irrational feelings of fear
  • Restlessness
  • Poor concentration
  • Frequent worry
  • Panic attacks

Managing Depression

If you or someone you know shows signs of depression, make an appointment with a healthcare professional. He or she can help diagnose the condition and provide the proper treatment options, such as medications, psychotherapy and support groups.

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