Recognizing Depression and Getting Treatment
If you have psoriasis, you already know that it is more than just a skin condition. Beyond the effects psoriasis can have on your body, it can wreak havoc on your emotions and mental well-being. In fact, the same processes in your body that form plaques also can change the levels of brain chemicals that affect your mood.
Among being faced with stigma, discomfort, and managing the autoimmune response, depression is one common comorbidity linked to psoriasis.
What are the signs of depression?
Since depression is a serious condition that can increase the risk that you will harm yourself, it is important to be aware of its symptoms and to get help as quickly as possible.
The symptoms of depression include:
- Depressed mood (sadness, hopelessness)
- Loss of interest or pleasure in most activities
- Weight loss
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Sleep difficulties
- Slowed or agitated behavior
- Thoughts of worthlessness or guilt
- Inability to concentrate or think clearly
Receiving a depression diagnosis
If you notice the symptoms of depression in yourself or a friend or family member, understand that help is available. Alert your doctor and ask for an evaluation. One key element is the experience of the symptoms listed above and how they persist over time.
There may be fluctuating mood swings and states. To achieve a formal diagnosis, you must report experiencing at least 5 of the 9 symptoms listed above, while symptoms must have persisted for most of every day for at least 2 weeks
Researching and accepting treatment
The biggest challenge of treating depression is that people are often reluctant to seek help and follow through with treatment. Some people believe that they need to be strong and stoic about emotional difficulties. Admitting the need for help is difficult and can seem like surrendering. However, real strength is reaching out for help when you need it. By doing this, you’ll be taking charge of your health and welfare.
Mental health experts agree that the best treatment for major depression is a combination of antidepressant medication and psychotherapy or counseling. While each type of treatment can provide some relief for depression, the combination works together and can be highly effective.
Psychotherapy or counseling for depression can be done individually or in a group by a qualified psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or counselor. It generally takes several months of treatment to get the best results. So, be prepared to stick with it for a sufficient amount of time.
You may also consider joining a support group for people with lung psoriasis. Getting support from a community of people dealing with similar problems can be a useful and powerful experience. While support groups are a useful addition to formal psychotherapy or counseling, they are not a substitute. Speak to your doctor to get a referral to a qualified mental health professional for psychotherapy or counseling.
Antidepressant treatment options
Only a qualified healthcare provider can determine which antidepressant medication will be best for you. Additionally, if you are being treated for psoriasis, your doctor will be concerned with the potential for interactions between your psoriasis treatment and antidepressant treatment.
A variety of antidepressants are to treat major depression. These include a group of antidepressants called serotonergic antidepressants, such as Zoloft (sertraline), Paxil (paroxetine), Effexor (venlafaxine), and Prozac (fluoxetine).
An older generation of antidepressants are in a group called tricyclics, and include Elavil (amitriptyline), Pamelor (nortriptyline), and Tofranil (imipramine). Other types of antidepressants may also be useful, including Wellbutrin (bupropion )and Desyrel (trazodone).
Talk with your doctor
Different antidepressants cause slightly different kinds of side effects, and no individual person will react the same to every medication. You will need to work with a doctor to find the right antidepressant for you.
Talk to your doctor to see if a change to your treatment plan can help. Finding the right medication to improve your psoriasis symptoms may in turn help with depression. If you continue to find easier ways to manage your symptoms, your depression may begin to feel more manageable.
Does your psoriasis skin feel out of control? How are you managing?