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Understanding the Link Between Psoriasis and Mental Illnesses

Mental Well-Being

July 13, 2023

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Photography by VISUALSPECTRUM/Stocksy United

Photography by VISUALSPECTRUM/Stocksy United

by Stefanie Remson


Medically Reviewed by:

Reema Patel, MPA, PA-C


by Stefanie Remson


Medically Reviewed by:

Reema Patel, MPA, PA-C


While research has recognized the elevated risk of depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders in those diagnosed with psoriasis, the reasons for the connection are not entirely clear. Here’s what we know.

It may feel difficult to talk about your skin condition and share your life with others if you live with psoriasis.

Being in public with a visible skin rash can complicate everyday life and affect your mood. Although psoriasis is not contagious, learning to navigate conversations about your skin can feel frustrating and isolating.

But is there a connection between psoriasis and mental health conditions like depression and anxiety?

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The research

A 2020 study found that people living with psoriasis are 1.5 times more likely to experience depression than people who are not. The study also found elevated rates of anxiety (20–50%) and schizophrenia (2.82%) among people living with psoriasis.

A 2019 study in Denmark also suggests a higher risk of bipolar disorder among people living with psoriasis.

Stress is a common psoriasis trigger. Managing life with a psoriasis flare may cause more stress, which may feel like a frustrating cycle. The effects of stress and psoriasis can also impact your mental health.

Studies from 2017 and 2022 similarly found that people living with psoriasis are more likely to experience depression and anxiety, respectively, compared to people who do not.

Another 2021 study suggests the need for more mental health screening among people living with psoriasis, as anxiety and depression are directly linked with quality of life.

Some pharmaceutical companies have even started investing in clinical trials to prove their medications treat psoriasis plaques and improve symptoms of anxiety and depression.

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Understanding the connection

While these studies show that there’s an increased incidence of mental health conditions in those living with psoriasis, they don’t provide a reason why. The relationship between psoriasis and psychiatric conditions has been examined in various research studies. While there’s no conclusive answer, there are a few prevailing theories.

A 2017 study outlines three leading explanations: genetics, stress, and inflammation.

Theory 1: Genetics

One theory is that genetics could predispose a person to both psoriasis and psychiatric conditions.

According to the study, this theory likely only explains the relationship in some people. In other words, genetics may be one factor, but it’s probable that other factors are also present.

Theory 2: Stress caused by living with psoriasis

The second, longer-standing theory is that stress related to psoriasis can lead to depression and anxiety.

A 2020 review found that feelings of social stigmatization and lower self-esteem due to visible plaques can impact behavior.

Maybe you chose clothing that carefully covers your psoriasis plaques. It requires time, mental energy, and emotional energy to plan an outfit around your skin each day.

It’s not uncommon for people living with psoriasis to avoid going out and seeing people, which can impact relationships with partners, friends, teachers, bosses, and more.

Withdrawal from others can contribute to loneliness and loss of social support, which play a role in causing depression. Women, children, and older adults are also more vulnerable to depression, according to the review.

Theory 3: Inflammation

Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin condition, and a third hypothesis suggests that inflammation exacerbates both psoriasis and psychiatric disorders.

A 2021 review involving the inflammatory model suggests that skin inflammation associated with psoriasis is related to inflammation throughout the body.

A 2020 study found elevated inflammatory markers among people living with depression and confirmed depression as a pro-inflammatory state.

Inflammation could be a connecting factor between psoriasis and psychiatric conditions.

What can you do?

It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed and isolated after a psoriasis diagnosis. There are many resources you can turn to for information, advice, and community.

Consider therapy

Therapy can be another beneficial way to talk about your experiences and recognize your own patterns of thinking.

A 2019 study suggests that therapy may help even help reduce psoriasis symptoms.

There are many resources you can use to find a therapist that fits your needs. Here are a few places to start:

  • Your insurance provider: Check with your insurance coverage and their provider directory.
  • American Psychological Association: The APA online database can help you find a good therapist match based on factors like location, therapist’s education, and even office hours. 
  • Online therapy services: You can video chat or have a phone call with a qualified mental health professional from the comfort of your own home or wherever you want to be. You can read therapists’ bios, education credentials, and specializations before scheduling your first consultation, which is often free.

Talk with your doctor

If your psoriasis flares are affecting your daily life in negative ways, speak with your dermatologist or general practitioner about treatment options. It may be time to try another medication or adjust your dosage.

Keeping your psoriasis symptoms in check may improve your mental health. And the reverse is also true — improving your mental health may make it easier to manage your psoriasis symptoms.

Connect with others

The National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) has a peer mentor program called Psoriasis One to One, where you can connect with people who have psoriasis or who care for others living with psoriasis.

NFP also produces Psound Bytes, a podcast where experts and people who live with psoriasis share insights on living well.

You can also get active with others in the psoriasis community by participating in an NFP event in your area. They have in-person and virtual events, so there’s something for everyone.

You can check out these Facebook search findings. Chronicon, an online community of support for people with chronic illness, also offers an in-person event every spring in New York City. (This event was founded by psoriasis warrior Nitika Chopra.)

When it comes to support, Bezzy is a resource for both information and connection. You can participate as much as you’d like, from sharing your stories and tips to simply listening, reading, and supporting others.

The Bezzy Psoriasis community knows firsthand what it’s like navigating mental health when living with psoriasis.

Whether you’re looking for treatment tips, emotional support, or just great conversations, the community is here for you.

Medically reviewed on July 13, 2023

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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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