For patients suffering with psoriasis, they already deal with the fact that the disease is a life-long affliction often associated with not only significant cosmetic, but also physical disability. The inflammatory skin disease sees a sufferer dealing with skin that has scaly patches, is irritable, red and in general itchy, however this is not all they face as it often puts these patients at a greater risk for other major medical problems.
According to researchers from the University of Calgary in Canada, patients with psoriasis who suffer from depression find themselves at a higher risk for psoriatic arthritis by approximately 37 percent versus those patients who did not find themselves depressed. Based on study findings, which were published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, it was determined that about 8.5 percent of patients with psoriasis also have psoriatic arthritis, which is not only the disease itself, but also leads to inflammation in and around the joints.
Cheryl Barnabe, the lead investigator of the study, said that for quite some time the dermatology and rheumatology communities have been working to figure out which of the patients with the inflammatory skin disease will end up developing psoriatic arthritis. They have also been trying to determine how they can potentially detect the disease sooner in its development.
Patients living with psoriasis often deal with depression and based on recent research which demonstrated that “major depressive disorder is associated with increased systemic inflammation” they were able to hypothesize that these patients who end up developing depression see an increased risk in developing this particular form of arthritis. Due to these findings, researchers feel this highlights an inherent need for a doctor to really manage a patient’s psoriasis and mental health, while also identifying and addressing any issues of depression.
Many people believe that depression is strictly an issue of emotions and psychology, however the reality is that this particular mental health issue also has physical effects as well. Often changes are seen in inflammatory and immune markers for people with depression, which in turn can lead to problems in other people with diseases afflicted with mental health issues.
Based on this new study it is becoming more clear that depression can be a risk factor for people suffering with chronic conditions. Individuals with psoriasis who find themselves dealing with depression are at an elevated risk of systemic inflammation and this is something that physicians need to pay attention to in their patients in order to potentially help combat the development of psoriatic arthritis.
By Dorothea James