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How to Navigate the Mental Health Effects of Psoriasis

Mental Well-Being

February 22, 2024

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Photography by Lechatnoir/Getty Images

Photography by Lechatnoir/Getty Images

by Stefanie Remson


Medically Reviewed by:

Tiffany Taft, PsyD


by Stefanie Remson


Medically Reviewed by:

Tiffany Taft, PsyD


Managing a chronic skin condition can take a psychological toll. Read on for tips to manage these often overlooked symptoms.

Psoriasis (PsO) is an autoimmune skin disorder that causes red or discolored elevated plaques that can be itchy and sometimes painful. But did you know that PsO can also affect your mental health?

PsO can affect your mental health in many ways, including:

  • lowering your self-esteem
  • causing you anxiety and depression
  • managing stigmas and assumptions that others may have
  • navigating lifestyle changes
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1. Self-esteem

The raised discolored plaques or silvery scales that appear with PsO are often highly visible, especially if they appear on parts of your body that are difficult to cover, like your face, hands, and feet.

For some people, this can lead to feelings of self-consciousness.

The unpredictability of PsO flares can affect your self-esteem by causing last-minute changes in attire, travel plans, or other commitments.

If you relate to this, here are some tips that might help boost your self-esteem:

  1. Seek empowerment: Striving to embrace your skin the way it is can be a difficult but powerful step. Find inspiration from Bree Pease, a PsO advocate and model who proudly shows her PsO skin.
  2. Be vocal: Talk about your skin. Educate people around you and answer questions people may have about your skin. Being an expert is empowering.
  3. Seek medical treatment: With the right treatments, some people living with PsO have clearer skin and can even go into remission.
  4. Advocate for yourself: Tell your healthcare professional if you’re not seeing the results you want from your treatments. Be sure to speak up because no one knows your skin better than you do.
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2. Anxiety and depression

Living with a chronic condition without a known cure can contribute to mental health conditions, like anxiety and depression. The uncertainty surrounding your diagnosis can be challenging to manage. The way your symptoms affect your quality of life is another reason that your mental health can take a hit.

According to a study from 2020, people living with PsO are 1.5 times more likely to experience depression than people who do not have the condition.

Body image-related issues due to psoriasis can also lead to social anxiety, which may affect your relationships, which can be an isolating experience.

Inconvenient, messy, or ineffective treatments, the unpredictability of the disease symptoms, and managing the social stigmas around the disease (i.e., telling people that it’s not contagious) may all contribute to anxiety and depressive symptoms.

Here are some tips for managing anxiety and depression when living with PsO:

  1. Control what you can and let go of what you can’t: You can’t always control your PsO symptoms, which can be stressful. Instead, focus on practicing thoughts, self-talk, and actions that better serve your mental health.
  2. Seek professional help: Psychotherapy, counseling, and life coaching can all help you process and address the ways your condition affects your quality of life.
  3. Remember that you’re not alone: For support, consider joining a support group or seeking support on social media.

Here is a list of some popular social media influencers in the PsO community:

  • Alisha M. Bridges: Psoriasis advocate and blogger.
  • Nitika Chopra: Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis patient and also a chronic illness advocate.
  • Holly Dillon: Psoriasis warrior and social media advocate who started the #GetYourSkinOut movement.
  • Jude Avril Duncan: Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis warrior and digital creator.

3. Stigmas

There are often stigmas associated with PsO, and these may impact your mental health, too. For example, some people may mistakenly believe your rash is contagious or results from poor hygiene. These stigmas can lead to feelings of shame and isolation.

Tips for managing the stigmas of PsO include:

  1. Seek professional help: Consider working through these difficult feelings and experiences in talk therapy.
  2. Education: Learning more yourself and educating people around you about PsO can help dispel the misinformation.
  3. Rise above it all: You can’t control what others think about you or your PsO, but you can strive to improve how you respond.
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4. Changes in lifestyle

Your lifestyle, or how you live each day, contributes significantly to your mental health. If you’re living with PsO, you know that the lifestyle changes that come with it range from small, barely noticeable changes to daily habits that immensely change one’s life.

Though many treatment options are available for PsO, finding one that’s effective and convenient for your lifestyle can be challenging.

Some treatments require ongoing maintenance and close medical monitoring and can be time-consuming or burdensome.

Be sure to discuss your lifestyle with your medical professional and the changes you may or may not be able to accommodate. Lifestyle changes that come with living with PsO may include:

  • Frequently applying topical treatments that may be messy and transfer to clothing
  • Frequently applying topical treatments that may be difficult to travel with or difficult to store
  • Washing your hair at regular intervals to apply medication to the scalp
  • Carefully planning infusion or injection treatments
  • Family planning (i.e., pregnancies)
  • Interference with activities that involve skin exposure or skin friction (i.e., swimming, acrobatics, modeling/acting)
  • Needing to trial multiple treatment options before finding one that works for you

The bottom line

There are many ways to manage the mental effects of PsO, but finding an effective treatment is always a great place to start. If your current treatment is not giving you clearer skin, consider talking with your healthcare professional about it.

Remember that you’re never alone. The psychological burden of a chronic condition can feel heavy but know that there are resources and people to offer you support.

Medically reviewed on February 22, 2024

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About the author

Stefanie Remson

Ms. Stefanie Remson MSN, APRN, FNP-BC is the CEO and founder of She is a family nurse practitioner and is a rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patient herself. She has spent her entire life serving the community as a healthcare professional and has refused to let RA slow her down. She has worked with The Arthritis Foundation, The Lupus Foundation of America, Healthline, Grace and Able, Arthritis Life, Musculo, Aila, and HopeX. You can learn more at her website and on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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