When we think about skin diseases, we often think about the outside. The flaky skin, the oozing pimples, the scaly plaques and the spotty redness. We can therefore forget about the stuff on the inside.
Psychological stresses, anxiety and depression can manifest itself in people with skin diseases if they are not careful.
Medical researchers Sulzberg and Zaidens wrote in 1948: “There is no single disease which causes more psychic trauma and more maladjustment between parents and children, more general insecurity and feelings of inferiority, and greater sums of psychic assessment than does acne vulgaris (acne).”
Acne has a clear correlation with depression and anxiety. It affects personality, self-image and self-esteem, and produces feelings of social isolation.
However, the degree to which a person has acne does not necessarily correspond with the psychological effect. Therefore, R U OK? Someone with mild acne can feel stronger psychological effects than someone with severe acne.
On the other hand, eczema can cause sleepless nights for children as well as impair school performance and social relationship. In adults, patients are concerned about their personal appearance and perceived attractiveness – affecting interpersonal relationships as well as work and career.
In people with psoriasis, the itching and unsightly appearance poses significant psychological stress. Studies show that there is a strong correlation to depression. Many report feelings of shame and embarrassment, avoiding swimming and sports. They also experience helplessness, anger and frustration.
As a result, the psychological effects of skin diseases are underappreciated. Like two sides of a coin, the physical and psychological aspects go hand in hand. The high visibility of the diseases increases stigmatization, and lowers social conversation.
Let’s start by building awareness.
Help us spread the word and join the conversation on twitter @depthsofmyskin.
Barankin, B. & DeKoven, J. 2002 ‘Psychosocial effect of common skin diseases’, Canadian Family Physician, vol. 48, no. 7, pp.712-716.
Sulzberger M. & Zaidens S. 1948 ‘Psychogenic factors in dermatologic disorders’, Med Clin North Am, vol. 32, pp. 669-672.