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Treating the Physical and Psychosocial Effects of Psoriasis

Many dermatology patients have needs that move beyond the physical into the psychological realm. In particular, psoriasis patients have reported to have high rates of depression, anxiety, social isolation, and a high occurrence of suicide.  Medical providers must remember to think not only of the physical condition of their patients, but of the mental condition as well.

When discussing a patient’s condition, it may also be necessary to inquire about their mental state.  While many depression-screening tools are available, certain questions can facilitate conversation as well: “Have you felt depressed or hopeless in the last two weeks?” or “In the past two weeks have you had little pleasure in activities, felt little motivation?”

Helping patients handle their depression comes with many benefits.  Patients show higher compliance to treatment plans when they are not suffering from the languid feelings of depression.  Care providers can help their patients for more than just their presenting problem, saving time, money, and, sometimes, lives.

Mental health professionals have begun collaborating with physicians to improve care for patients that have physical illness and mental illness, or physical illness that affects them emotionally, like those with psoriasis.  With a team approach, physicians can consult with the mental health worker on staff.  Their patient has easy access to assessment and there is no more worry about whether the patient will go to a referred mental health provider.

For the many psoriasis patients that suffer from the psychosocial effects of the disease, the extra care from their medical provider can truly make the difference.  Taking the time to check in on how they feel the disease impacts their daily life can open the door to creating the perfect course of treatment, to help them both physically and psychologically.

Sources: 1, 2, 3

Image: Tim Caynes

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