talkhealth‘s CEO Catriona Williams was published in the Guardian last weekend with a piece on the mental health side effects of living with psoriasis.
The skin condition affects around 2% of the British population – meaning that over a million Brits live with itchy, scaly patches. The link between psoriasis and issues like anxiety and stress are well known, yet we don’t talk enough about that relationship.
Catriona’s mission is to highlight how mental health can play a fundamental role in chronic physical conditions. talkhealth has been discussing its mental health strategy for some time and we believe that we can best serve our community by providing our members with the tools to protect or improve their emotional well-being while navigating the realities of living with a long-term physical health condition.
In a bid to open up the conversation around mental health and skin, we recently hosted an online expert clinic with the British Skin Foundation. We found that many of our members were either struggling with their mental health because of their skin issues, or that their mental health was triggering debilitating symptoms.
Steve* lived with a generalised anxiety disorder which he said was making his psoriasis worse. What could he do – he asked – to get a better grip on both?
Consultant dermatologist Dr Alia Ahmed said that the link between psoriasis and psychological health is well known but it’s hard to say if one causes the other; it’s a chicken-egg scenario. However, ‘we do know that treatment of both the mind and skin together generally leads to better outcomes,’ she explained.
‘People with psoriasis do tend to have higher levels of anxiety and depression than those without skin conditions. I would suggest seeing a psychodermatologist or psychodermatology service to address both issues concurrently. This may include better medical treatment of your skin coupled with psychological interventions or anxiety-reducing medications.’
Catriona’s Guardian article went onto describe tools for tackling the itch, as prescribed in the clinic, the takeaway being that the solution for soothing skin can be a type of CBT. While creams and lotions may help, so too can habit-reversal techniques.
If you’d like to check out the Q&As from the clinic, you can do so here. Remember, all of our clinics are available for sponsorship.