Living with a chronic skin condition like eczema is not easy. Managing dry, itchy, inflamed skin can be a major source of stress, especially if your current treatments aren't working and your self-care efforts are falling short. So it's no surprise that a recent survey by the National Eczema Association revealed that more than 30 percent of people with atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, have been diagnosed with depression. You may be thinking: Is this my life now? This is not necessarily the case. With some understanding of why eczema and mental health issues go hand in hand, plus some expert-backed strategies for managing this stressful condition, your future is already looking brighter.
Mental Health Impact #1: Eczema Never Ends
There are many reasons why eczema can affect your mood. Inflammation is your body's response to injury or damage. Infect. Eczema causes chronic inflammation, causing constant irritation, pain, and fatigue. Sometimes things may get better, only to come back again, leaving you searching for self-care solutions and effective treatments. All of this is too much and can be mentally taxing.
Making the problem more complicated? Chronic inflammation can also affect the way we sleep. For one, the instinct to constantly scratch at your open skin keeps you awake. Over time, insomnia can turn into insomnia—the inability to fall or stay asleep, depriving you of much-needed recovery. Insomnia from eczema means your body doesn't fully recover in the morning, making it harder to function throughout sleep. If you have a chronic illness, you don't sleep well. You're always scratching and distracted. All of these things will eventually wear you down.
Additionally, chronic inflammation in your body can leave you feeling fatigued, an overtired chronic warrior experience that a nap can never fully relieve, especially when your skin is keeping you awake. The relationship between inflammation, insomnia and depression creates a vicious cycle, each exacerbating the other problems. Researchers found that patients with inflammatory skin disease were significantly more likely to be fatigued and had higher rates of insomnia than those with non-inflammatory skin cancer.
Mental Health Impact #2: Eczema Can Be Painful
Irritated skin and lesions can lead to constant scratching, which can be uncomfortable and sometimes painful. The lesions may also become infected, and depending on where they are on your body, this may make it difficult to move and live your life. The Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology published a study of 602 adults with atopic dermatitis, and 61% of respondents reported eczema pain, with 33% experiencing pain at least once a week. Researchers concluded that most pain was related to scratches, skin abrasions, and skin inflammation.
Mental Health Impact #3: Eczema Can Wreck Your Self-Esteem
Eczema is a very visible condition that usually occurs on the inside of the elbows, behind the knees, around the eyelids, and in the front of the neck. Covering loose skin can be tricky for patients. with clothes. They may become frustrated when their skin is flaky, dry, or inflamed, or they feel uncomfortable and itchy. They don't feel confident if their skin is under better control. When eczema flares up, it can be difficult to get along with others. The triple whammy of constant itching, irritated skin, and fatigue can leave you feeling insecure and isolated.
Talk to your dermatologist about taking control of your skin
So what can people with eczema do for their mental health? First, it is important that you check to make sure your treatment is working best for you. Ask your doctor about treatment adjustments and even at-home care tips that can help stabilize your skin.
Ask for a therapist recommendation
If any of the conversations we have here about mental health issues resonate with you, remember that any time is a good time to ask your doctor for a referral to a professional who can help you work through how you're feeling. One approach that's showing promise for people with eczema is a structured, goal-oriented talk therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The goal of CBT is to reduce symptoms of depression, but even better, it may help reduce symptoms of eczema itself. A clinical trial of 102 adults in Sweden found that people with eczema who participated in an internet-based treatment program experienced significant improvements in their eczema symptoms each week. Symptoms decreased after 12 weeks, including itch intensity, perceived stress, and sleep problems. This feeling-good boost lasted for at least a year.
As for taking eczema medications at the same time as antidepressants, it's generally safe to do so, but it's important to check with your dermatologist and your pharmacist to make sure they won't have negative effects. Some antidepressant medications have antipruritic properties that can help relieve itching of skin lesions.
Incorporate stress management and self-care
In addition to medication, experts recommend reducing stress as much as possible to manage eczema. Stress and severe depression can backfire and make eczema worse, so it's important to control both.
The National Eczema Association offers tips for relieving stress at home, including meditation, gentle exercise like yoga, getting out for a walk, and practicing self-care.