Depression not just affects your mind, but can also harm your skin. Doctors have termed this phenomenon as a new field called ‘psychodermatology’. It addresses the impact of an individual’s emotion as it relates to the skin.
Just like happy emotions affect us positively, negative emotions can adversely impact our skin, say doctors. Dr Vivek Mehta, dermatologist at Pulastya’s Cadle Skin Laser Clinic and Dr Rohit Batra, dermatologist at Derma World Skin and Hair Clinic, explain: “Our skin is connected to nerve endings and hence, our emotions play a major role in expressing our mental health through the skin. Issues like increased anxiety, stress, hypertension, anger cause wrinkles, premature hair loss, acne breakouts (stress-induced acne).”
Here are some general skin issues that may arise because of depression:
Due to inadequate sleep or oversleep during depression, a person may develop bags under their eyes due to fluid accumulation in the lower eyelid.
Constantly stressing and overthinking may lead to frowning of brow which over a period of time may become a permanent wrinkle.
Chances are high that a depressed person may not drink enough water. This makes their skin dehydrated and dull.
Acne and blemishes
Low mood and high-stress flare acne issues. Dr Mehta says stress releases a cortisol that may disturb other hormones in the body leading to acne breakouts on your skin.
Rashes and hives
These are caused by an imbalance in the gut which is quite common in people suffering from depression as their diet intake may not be healthy and sufficient.
A stressed and depressed person may take short, shallow breaths. An improper heartbeat may also lead to a flushed, red face.
Apart from these issues, psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema are three main skin issues that can flare up due to depression. In this situation, the skin issues become an additional factor that increases the lower self-esteem and low confidence.
“Apart from the anti-depressant, meditation therapies and counselling, proper dietary intake and support from the family plays a major role in supporting a person through depression,” says Dr Mehta.
Here’s what can be done in case you or someone you know is suffering from depression:
Follow a healthy diet, exercise and try to socialise or at least talk about how you feel to someone you trust. If it gets worse, seek medical help. If a friend or family member seems to be withdrawing from social interaction, reach out to them. Get them help.
Educate yourself about the condition
It is very important to understand why and what you are going through to be able to better deal with it. Learn to recognise triggers and patterns that push you deeper into depression and avoid those. Empower yourself with knowledge and use it to improve your wellbeing. Medical intervention will work faster if you are actively invested in getting better.
Medications plus social support
It is mandatory to go to a doctor but do not rely solely on medicines. Your friends, family, peers and well-wishers are your best support. Interact with them, spend some time with them and your mood will improve.
Find a therapist
It is important to take the help of a professional counsellor. Speak to your family doctor to guide you on the matter.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Interpersonal Therapy, Psychodynamic Therapy are integral parts of the treatment to cure patients struggling with depression. These therapies will target various facets of your personality right from relationships to thought patterns, and help zero-in on and manage your issues.
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