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How Do Chronic Skin Conditions Impact Mental Wellness?

Updated: Jul 3

A chronic skin condition can have a huge impact on a person’s mental health. It certainly did for me.

For years, I struggled with my mental state on a daily basis. Getting ready every morning, I’d be a ball of anxiety and stress. I could hardly stand to look in the mirror, because I didn’t like what I saw. I was constantly terrified that someone would notice my hair loss. I felt completely isolated.

Have you felt something similar in your own life? If so, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. In fact, what you’re feeling is very common.

Skin conditions often impact mental health

Research has shown that people with chronic skin conditions often experience effects on their mental health. 

For example, research in people with psoriasis has found that 43% of them also have anxiety, and 20 to 30% also have depression. Some studies have even found rates of depression as high as 62% in this population.

The story is similar for other chronic skin conditions. Eczema, acne, and rosacea have all been linked with an increased risk of depression and anxiety. It seems very likely that all chronic skin conditions are linked to mental health in this way. Some of the less common conditions may not have been studied yet, but I’d be surprised if they don’t follow the same pattern.

Even though the research is very clear that mental health issues are common in people with chronic skin conditions, not all doctors are aware that it’s important to screen patients who have skin conditions for issues like depression and anxiety. As a patient with a skin condition, I often wasn’t even asked about my mental health during my medical visits. It just wasn’t on the radar.

It’s not that doctors don’t care about their patients’ mental health. However, mainstream medicine is highly compartmentalized. In general, doctors are trained to focus on one specific problem at a time. This narrow focus can easily lead to problems like depression or anxiety being missed.

Why do skin conditions impact mental health?

So why is it that having a chronic skin condition can have such a significant impact on mental health? Well, there are several different ways that these issues are linked:

  • Self-esteem. Many people with chronic skin conditions have negative feelings about their appearance. Having negative feelings about yourself can make you feel hopeless, and may lead to depression.

  • Isolation. On a related note, some people avoid social situations because they don’t want others to see their skin. This can lead to a person becoming more socially isolated, which has a huge negative impact on mental health.

  • Sleep. Many chronic skin conditions cause symptoms like itching, which can interfere with sleep. Lack of sleep is a well-known risk factor for mental health conditions.

  • Inflammation. Most chronic skin conditions involve inflammation, which is activation of the immune system. The various factors secreted during an immune response make their way to the brain, and they can influence its function. Research has found a link between chronic inflammation and conditions like depression.

Connecting with other Skin Warriors for support

If your chronic skin condition has affected your mental health, I want you to know that you’re not alone. It’s also important for people with skin conditions to watch out for potential signs of mental health issues. Your doctor may not check for these issues, so it’s helpful for you to know to watch out for them.

If you start to experience any symptoms of depression or anxiety, make sure to bring this up with a health professional. You can talk with your regular doctor about it, or you can visit a mental health professional. The important thing is to make a plan to deal with the problem.

Mental health is absolutely crucial for many reasons. Your mental health influences your skin health – I talk about this a lot inside MGS Academy. Mental health also has an obvious impact on quality of life, and influences many other aspects of your health as well. If you’re experiencing any mental health challenges, you definitely need to address these.

Connecting with others who also have chronic skin conditions can be very helpful. Inside our communities, people share with each other about the challenges that they’ve encountered, and how they dealt with these problems. Social support is so very crucial, and can be hard to find in our modern disconnected society. I’m so happy to see how supportive people are inside these communities.

I’ve put a ton of work into my journey, and I’m happy to share that I’m currently experiencing great mental health. I know that this is possible, and I want this for you, too.

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