Psoriasis On The Brain
Linking depression and psoriasis
Depression is a common related condition of psoriasis, and I am part of that statistic. I am thankful that I do not struggle with chronic depression, but it has definitely been known to come and hang out for extended periods of time throughout my life. Sometimes these periods are connected to a flare or stressful time in my life, but other times it seems to sneak in and take over for no apparent reason.
I refer to these times as being in a “funk”. I know it is cliché, but for some reason it makes me feel less stigmatized by calling it a funk instead of acknowledging the clinical aspects of depression. My family has a history of mental illness, including depression and bipolar, so I am well versed in the knowledge that depression is, in fact, a chemical imbalance and not something I can “snap” out of, but I still feel a burden of shame and responsibility during these times. It is similar to psoriasis in that way—it is a disease that I didn’t ask for, that I didn’t do anything to catch, yet I feel completely embarrassed by it.
Finding a treatment that works
Again, similar to psoriasis itself, I have encountered failed medications when trying to treat my depression. Right after my first son was born I was thrown into a long period of depression. Instead of being able to enjoy what was one of the most amazing times of my life—getting to know my son—I felt insecure, hopeless, and fatigued beyond anything I had ever experienced.
My wife encouraged me to reach out to a doctor, so I made an appointment, only to be told when I got there that there was a glitch in my insurance and they couldn’t see me. I always think back on that time and think, wow, how can you turn someone away that is there for depression? Luckily I persisted and made another appointment. I was given a low dose of medication and sent on my way.
The depression medicine seemed to work pretty well for a few months. At my follow-up my fatigue was still disruptive to my life, so they added a second medication that was supposed to enhance the first. That is when things went downhill fast. I became irritable, irrational, and just not myself. I felt like the Hulk; I was always ready to rage. I scared myself, so I ended up stopping the medicine cold turkey (I do NOT recommend this and encourage anyone considering a medication change to talk to their doctors.)
I felt completely isolated. Just like my skin, it seemed that everything “wrong” with me was untreatable. I would find things that worked for a little while, but I always braced myself for the imminent disappointment. Also, the part that is harder about the depression is that it is more difficult to gauge progress compared to my skin symptoms.
Calling in the professionals
From then on I was too scared to try anything else and took a more holistic approach to managing my symptoms. Now I have a great counselor that I see during these times that has helped me tremendously. I know not everyone can manage their depression with just cognitive and behavioral therapy, and I recognize that it might not always work for me in the future, but I am glad I at least have some foundational methods in place and a support system that can recognize if I am not doing well.
Understanding that depression was related to my psoriasis helped me look at treatment in a better way. I wouldn’t brush off another comorbidity, such as heart disease, would I? Depression is the same. It is a serious issue that I must take care of the same way as my psoriatic disease. If you are having any symptoms of depression today, I hope you know you are not alone and have the strength to reach out to your doctor.
What are you grateful for in your psoriasis experience? (Select all that apply)
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