World Health Day: Here's how depression can affect your skin
New Delhi Apr. 7 : According to the estimates by CDC, depression will be the second-leading disability worldwide by the year 2020.Nearly five percent of India's population suffers from common mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety (National Commission on Macroeconomics and Health, 2005).
With more people struggling with mental diseases, it's not just their mental health which is at risk but also the skin and body which is affected drastically!
Depression- an unseen disease: As per an epidemiological study in the year 2000, the prevalence of mental disorders in India was 70.5 per 1000 in rural and 73 per 1000 in urban population. Hence, it is not just a lifestyle issue that finds its place in the urban population but a mental issue that can affect anyone.
While other health issues can be detected easily, depression is not so common to understand. However, if a person appears to be sad, moody or low from time to time, s/he needs medical attention.
Apart from unreasonable mood swings, a person suffering from depression exhibits the following signs:
- Feeling angry and irritable;
- Feeling of guilt/blaming yourself for failures;
- Lack of focus;
- Lack of interest;
- Changes in the appetite (Not feeling angry or feeling hungry all the time);
- Changes in the sleep pattern (Insomnia or over sleeping);
- Losing hope;
- Chronic exhaustion (feeling drained all the time);
- Body aches and pain;
- A constant feeling that life is not worthwhile.
Skin Connection or Psychodermatology: The effect of depression is not just on your mind but skin as well. Experts have named this phenomenon as a new field termed as 'Psychodermatology'. It is a field that addresses the impact of an individual's emotion as it relates to the skin.
Dr Vivek Mehta, dermatologist at Pulastya's Cadle Skin Laser Clinic and Dr Rohit Batra, dermatologist at Derma World Skin and Hair Clinics explain further "Our skin is connected to nerve endings and hence, or emotions plays 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)."
Adding, "While happy emotions affect us positively, negative emotions adversely affect our skin."
Here are some general skin issues that may arise due to depression:
- Under Eye Bags: Due to inadequate sleep or oversleep during the depression, a person may develop under eye bags due to fluid accumulation in your lower eyelid. This not only make you look exhausted but add numbers to your age!
- Dry skin: If you are depressed, chances are high that the person may not drink enough water; this makes your skin dehydrated. Not only it takes away the glow from your skin but leads to a dull face.
- Acne and Blemishes: Low mood and high-stress flare acne issues. Dr Vivek explains that stress releases a cortisol that may disturb other hormones in the body leading to acne breakouts on your skin.
- Rashes and Hives: A depressed soul is prone to rashes & hives as 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.
- Flushed Face: Due to excessive stress & depression, the person may take short, shallow breaths, the improper heart beat may also lead to flushed, red face.
- Fine lines: Constantly stressing & overthinking may lead to frowning of brow which gradually becomes a cause of wrinkle on your face. Over a period of time, it may become a permanent wrinkle.
Apart from these issues, psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema are three main skin issues that can flare up immensely due to depression. In this situation, the skin issues become an additional factor that adds on to the lower self-esteem and low confidence.
Suggesting the treatement, Dr Mehta said, "Apart from the anti-depressant, meditation therapies and counseling, proper dietary intake and support from the family plays a great role in supporting a person struggling with depression."
Here's a list of few activities that can be used to treat depression.
- Lifestyle changes: Incorporating a healthy diet, exercise and socializing with the peers, work wonders for the patients struggling with depression.
- Get to know about Depression: It is very important to understand and realize to your true self that you/ your friend might be suffering from depression. Once accepted, you can read on and talk to your doctor about the same.
- Medications will help but social support is important: It is mandatory to go to a doctor but do not rely solely on the medicines. Your friends, family, peers and well-wishers are your great support. Interact with them, spend some time with them and your mood will definitely boost up.
- Find a therapist: It is important that a professional counselor should intervene in your situation. Shed all the inhibition and contact a doctor who will be the best person to guide you on the issue.
- Psychotherapy: Cognitive Behavioral therapy, Interpersonal therapy, psychodynamic therapy is integral part of the treatment to cure patients struggling with depression. These therapies will target various facets of your personality right from relationships, settling healthy boundaries and handling life's problems.