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Psoriasis and mental health

Psoriasis and mental health

This content reflects the views of the individual blogger and is not intended to advise you about your health. Always seek advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare professionals.

Psoriasis is a chronic, lifelong condition with differing symptoms. The most common type of psoriasis is called plaque psoriasis which appears on the body as red lesions. It can be mild, moderate or severe in nature and appear anywhere from the scalp to the soles of the feet. The plaques can be small or large in size. Another common type of psoriasis is Guttate psoriasis which appears as small raindrop-like plaques and are usually pink or red in colour.

It doesn’t matter what type of psoriasis you have as depending on its severity and where the lesions are located will affect how you feel about having the condition. For some people, psoriasis is only a minor ailment which comes and goes in cycles, but doesn’t disrupt daily living or cause a major impact to their life. For others, merely having the condition, particularly on visible areas of the body, can have a major impact on quality of life and be a real burden. The result of this leads some patients to develop mental health problems.

How do you know if you’re affected? It’s normal to experience anxiety before a job interview or if you’ve got a nerve-wracking presentation to deliver. It’s also normal to experience sadness after the death of a loved one or if you’ve recently lost your job. But it’s when these emotions persist for several weeks that it can be diagnosed by a medical professional as a mental health problem.

It’s important to take steps to manage your well-being if you suspect you may be suffering from a mental health problem.

The first thing you can do is look at your diet and exercise. Are you eating the right foods? Are you getting your daily intake of vital nutrients and vitamins? While it may sound easy, often, what we’re putting in our mouths can really impact the way we feel about ourselves. Then, ask yourself, are you doing enough exercise? Again, it may seem or feel easy, but going for a run, or a long walk in the local park can help to take your mind off things. If it’s your psoriasis that you’re feeling particularly worn down from, running can be a great way to distract yourself from having to think about that.

The second thing you can do is surround yourself with others. Talk to them about how you are feeling and what impact psoriasis is having on you. Try and find someone you trust or is a close relation or friend; someone who will listen. They will reassure you and make sure you’re feeling better. Once you’ve had a chat about your psoriasis, talk about other things; take the conversation away from your illness, so you can remember what it is about life you enjoy and enjoy partaking in.

The third thing you can do is take a journal or diary of your thoughts. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy for psychiatric illnesses which help you retrain your brain by thinking about how your thoughts, feelings and actions are all interconnected. If you’re worried about speaking to a mental health professional or don’t know where to turn, often it helps to just jot down exactly what’s going through your mind. What is it about psoriasis that is bothering you? Is it the way it looks or feels? Are you anxious about the lesions getting worse, or does it bother you that you may flare up again soon? Have the medications you’ve tried not helped you? Are you worried about trying something new that has a lot of different side effects? Try and think of everything that is bothering you and note down each one. If you do decide to go for therapy, later on these notes will come in handy when you go through the therapy as it will help hone in on specific issues which are affecting you.

The fourth thing you can do is keep your medical team up-to-date with how everything is going. It’s well-known in the health world that psoriasis is not just a physical ailment. How it looks, how it feels and how it spreads also mean the condition affects people mentally as well as physically. If you’re at the start of your psoriasis journey and have just been diagnosed, keep going to your doctor’s appointments and keep them informed with everything: that includes both the psoriasis and the mental-side of the condition too.

Be persistent, be brave and stay strong. Know that you’re not alone and lots of us (including myself) have had years of struggle with this awful disease. Eat well, exercise right, chat to family members, keep a diary, speak to a therapist and continue going to your medical appointments. There are lots of things out there that can help.

If you, or someone you know, have been affected by mental health issues, the following organisations may be able to help; Mind, Samaritans or talk to your doctor for further support.

Article developed in partnership with LEO Pharma.

MAT-33839 Date of prep: April 2020

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