Getting Help For Depression When You Have Psoriasis

How the two conditions are related and the importance of getting help.

Medically reviewed in September 2021

While there is no cure for psoriasis, there are treatments that can help people who have psoriasis achieve clear or clearer skin. Treatment is different for everyone, but often involves finding and sticking to a skincare routine, avoiding triggers, and sometimes prescription treatments, such as UV light therapy or biologic therapies.

Taking care of mental health is another important aspect of psoriasis management. Psoriasis can be a distressing and frustrating condition to live with, and mood disorders like depression are more common among people who have psoriasis.

What is depression?
Depression is a common medical illness characterized by depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities, and feelings of low self worth. People experiencing depression may have disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, poor concentration, and difficulty making decisions. If you are experiencing any symptoms of depression, it is important to speak to a healthcare provider about these symptoms.

Depression and psoriasis
As mentioned above, depression is more common among people who have psoriasis, and research suggests that psoriasis can have a significant negative impact on a person’s quality of life. There are a number of reasons for this:

  • Stigma. People with psoriasis may feel stigmatized or embarrassed because of their symptoms. They may feel like their symptoms will be mistaken for a contagious disease, and may avoid social and romantic relationships as a result.
  • Physical discomfort. The most common type of psoriasis is plaque psoriasis, which causes patches of thickened, reddened skin with a scaled texture. These plaques can be itchy and painful, symptoms that can contribute to mental distress.
  • Frustration. Psoriasis can be frustrating to manage. Keeping symptoms under control may require close adherence to a skincare routine, avoiding triggers, and trying several different therapies before finding one that is effective.

There is also a theory that the link between psoriasis and depression is inflammation. Though classified as a skin disorder, psoriasis is also considered an inflammatory disorder or an immune-mediated disease—a disorder that results from abnormal immune activity. This abnormal immune activity increases the growth of skin cells, resulting in skin symptoms. In people who have psoriatic arthritis, it causes joint inflammation.

There is evidence that this abnormal immune activity causes inflammation throughout the entire body and all of its systems, including the brain and the rest of the central nervous system. There is also research that suggests inflammation is associated with depression in some cases—though the relationship is not fully understood. Some researchers believe that inflammation is an important link between psoriasis and depression.

Getting help for depression
It cannot be stated enough—if you are experiencing symptoms of depression, talk to a healthcare provider. Depression is an illness that requires treatment, and there are effective treatments available. Therapy, counseling, support groups, and medications are some of the common treatments for depression, but depression is different for everyone, and different treatments work for different people.

Research has shown that some patients who treat psoriasis with biologic therapies—treatments that reduce systemic inflammation—see an improvement in mood. People who are unsatisfied with their current psoriasis treatment should talk to their healthcare provider about other treatment options.

Medically reviewed in November, 2019.

UpToDate. "Patient education: Psoriasis (Beyond the Basics)."
Maria de Fatima Santos Paim de Oliveira, Bruno de Oliveira Rocha, and Gleison Vieira Duarte. "Psoriasis: classical and emerging comorbidities." Anais Brasileiros de Dermatologia, Jan-Feb 2015. Vol. 90, No. 1.
American Psychiatric Association. "What is Depression?"
Rashmi Sarkar, Shikha Chugh, and Shivani Bansal. "General measures and quality of life issues in psoriasis." Indian Dermatology Online Journal, Nov-Dec 2016. Vol. 7, No. 6.
S. Gonzalez-Parra and E. Dauden. "Psoriasis and Depression: The Role of Inflammation." Actas Dermo-Sifiliograficas (English Edition), Jan-Feb 2019. Vol. 110, No. 1.
Emily Delzell. "How psoriasis triggers depression—and how to stop it." National Psoriasis Foundation, Aug. 2018.
Giovanni Amodeo, Maria Allegra Trusso and Andrea Fagiolini. "Depression and Inflammation: Disentangling a Clear Yet Complex and Multifaceted Link." Neuropsychiatry, 2017. Vol. 7, No. 4.
Ana Sandoiu. "Study challenges link between depression and inflammation." MedicalNewsToday, Oct. 2019.
National Alliance on Mental Illness. "Depression.

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