Mental Health Issues May Accompany Psoriasis

A new study by Swedish researchers suggests individuals with the common dermatological condition of psoriasis may also have other physical diseases that can bring on depression, anxiety and suicide.

Investigators from Umeå University discovered the physical or somatic diseases that often accompany psoriasis have even more impact on patients’ mental health than their skin symptoms. Investigators believe this finding highlights the importance of holistic patient care.

Psoriasis is a lifelong disease. The body produces skin cells too quickly which build up on the skin’s surface in the form of inflamed red, painful, itchy scales. Many people with psoriasis have other physical diseases such as being overweight, diabetes and heart diseases.

“What we didn’t know before is how psoriasis skin symptoms and other somatic diseases associated with psoriasis impact mental health,” said Dr. Marcus Schmitt-Egenolf, dermatologist and professor at Umeå University.

Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease with a high impact on self-esteem and patients’ health-related quality of life. Psoriasis can be a psychosocial skin disease as psychosocial stress can maintain and exacerbate it.

Psoriasis has stronger associations with psychiatric disorders than other dermatological diseases. Research also suggests that people with psoriasis suffer more often from somatic and mental diseases compared to individuals without psoriasis.

The new study confirmed this and investigated how psoriasis skin symptoms and associated somatic diseases impacted mental health, considering anxiety, depression and suicide together.

The research was conducted during 2017 – 2019 and included Swedish nationwide data from about 100,000 individuals with psoriasis but without earlier mental diseases. The participants were then compared to a control group without psoriasis. The study appears in JAMA Dermatology.

Resaerchers found that skin symptoms have an important impact on mental health, but that other somatic diseases associated with psoriasis can cause even more harm to mental health.

“We found that skin symptoms increased the risk of mental illness by a third, while other physical illnesses doubled the risk among psoriasis patients,” said Kirk Geale, Ph.D. candidate at Umeå University.

The results in the study shows a 32 percent increase risk of mental illness caused by skin symptoms and a 109 percent increased risk at other somatic illnesses.

This information is important as the total burden of mental health burden for people with psoriasis, and what contributes to it, was not well established.

Researchers believe the study findings will encourage people with psoriasis to talk with their doctors more about symptoms beyond the skin, both physical and mental. It also encourages doctors to proactively discuss these issues with their patients.

“I would be delighted if our study could support the trend towards a more holistic view on psoriasis care,” said Schmitt-Egenolf. “At the doctor’s office, lifestyle factors should be discussed in the awareness that individual responsiblity may be limited by available personal and community resources.

“Such an approach may improve the complete triad of psoriasis: skin symptoms, somatic and mental health alike.”

Source: Umea University

Source: PsychCentral Mental Health Issues May Accompany Psoriasis