The Effects of Psoriasis More than Skin Deep


The effects of psoriasis is more than skin deep and people with this skin disorder have a greater risk of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.New research on psoriasis is telling us that this condition is more than skin deep. It appears that people with this skin disorder have a greater risk of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.

Psoriasis is a non-contagious skin condition that causes rapid skin cell reproduction resulting in red, dry patches of thickened skin. Psoriasis can decrease quality of life, and when severe can be associated with other medical conditions. According to Dr. Shanu Kohli Kurd, MD at the University of Pennsylvania, psoriasis has been linked to mental health issues, but a clear association has not been carefully documented by research.

Depression risk high in psoriasis patients

Psoriasis patients had a 39 percent increase in the risk of a clinical diagnosis of depression, a 31 percent increase in the risk of anxiety and a 44 percent increase in the risk of suicidality.


“Our results suggest that patients with psoriasis are at increased risk for the development of depression, anxiety, and suicidality. On the basis of these data and the prevalence of psoriasis we estimate that in the UK there are over 10,400 diagnoses of depression, 7,100 diagnoses of anxiety, and 350 diagnoses of suicidality attributable to psoriasis each year,” according to Kurd.

To establish how often depression, anxiety, and suicidality occurred in patients with psoriasis, Kurd and his team used data from the General Practice Research Database in the U.K. which is an electronic medical record of more than eight million people containing records from 1987 to 2002. Within that data was 146,042 patients with mild psoriasis, 3,956 with psoriasis severe enough to require systemic therapy, and 766,950 people without psoriasis.

Kurd and his researchers assessed the occurrences of depression in terms of “person-years of follow-up,” which is a measure of the total of number of years of depression in the group. When they compared the rates numbers of “person-years” spent in depression of the patients with psoriasis to those without, they found that those with psoriasis were 1.39 times more likely to be depressed. The hazard ratios for those with psoriasis for anxiety was 1.31, and 1.44 for suicidal thinking. For more severe cases of psoriasis, the risk for suicidality was even higher.

The researchers found that younger patients appeared to have a significantly higher risk of the three diagnoses than older patients. Also, men appear to be at higher risk than women for a diagnosis of depression if they have severe psoriasis and look for interventions.