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Mental Health

Does your atopic dermatitis affect how you feel inside?

If you have atopic dermatitis, the effects can be more than skin deep. Flares and other signs and symptoms of AD may affect a person's mental health.1,2

For those with moderate-to-severe AD, a lack of proper control over the condition can have a significant impact on mental health.3

For some, AD can be associated with anxiety and depression, can disturb sleep, increase stress levels, and have a serious impact on your quality of life.1,3

But, if you feel like this, don’t worry. You’re not alone. In a recent survey, the mental strain, including depression and/or anxiety, was found to affect more than 30% of people living with AD.4

So, if you feel like your AD is having a negative impact on your mental health, tell your dermatologist so you can discuss ways to achieve better control.

Mental Health 1

How you feel inside can affect your AD

It’s a bit of a vicious cycle. Because, just as your flare-ups can affect your mental health, poor mental health can trigger or aggravate your flare-ups.1,2

How your AD is affected by stress

You know how when you get stressed, you can feel ‘hot and bothered’? Well, it’s not just your imagination.

Because, when we get stressed, our body goes into ‘fight or flight’ mode, producing more adrenaline and more of the stress hormone cortisol.

More cortisol can increase skin inflammation. And, with AD, you’ll be more susceptible to it due to the underlying inflammation already beneath the skin.4 How unfair is that?

Stress

Is AD making you feel stressed? And is that stress making your AD worse? Learn more about that cycle, and find tips to get out of your rut.

Find out more
Woman with eczema looking hot and bothered, representing how we can feel when stressed with atopic dermatitis
Man with eczema looking up holding a cloudy heart shape, representing feelings of depression

The link between AD and depression

Depending on how severe your AD is, you may experience intense itching and broken sleep, making your AD worse and leaving you feeling lethargic.2,3 Combined with other factors, this can sometimes lead to feelings of depression.2,3

Caregivers can need care too

Caring for a child with AD can be an emotionally exhausting 24-hour job that can ultimately get you down.5

Demanding and time-consuming, it can often involve a broken night’s sleep.5 This can also have a ripple-effect on the whole family, whether that’s lack of sleep or not being able to enjoy plans together – it can put a strain on everyone. And you might end up feeling worried, hopeless, and find it hard to maintain relationships.5

As a result, if you’re caring for a child with AD, you may experience much higher-than-average levels of anxiety and depression.5,6 So it’s really important to care for yourself too.

If your child’s AD is significantly disturbing their sleep, and yours, or affecting daily family life, it could be a sign their AD isn’t under control. Speak to your dermatologist about how you can manage their AD in the long term.

Caregiver sat down with eyes closed practising meditation to improve wellness
Managing AD

Getting the support you need

AD is often regarded as a purely physical condition that affects only the skin, which means the mental health side of things can get overlooked. But if you’re feeling like there’s no support out there for your AD, think again.

Our understanding of AD is changing, which means there are more options and approaches out there that might be right for you. If you haven’t seen a dermatologist in a while (or ever), then there’s no time like the present to speak to one about other ways to find control of your AD. We know that gaining long-term control could make a big difference to your mental health, as well as your physical health.

Dr Discussion Guide

Doctor Discussion Guide

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ADCT

Atopic Dermatitis Control Tool

These 6 quick and simple question scan give a dermatologist an idea of how controlled your AD is.

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Treatments

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References

  1. Tsamakis K et al. Exp Ther Med. 2020; 20(1):159–162.

  2. Ring J et al. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol 2012; 26:1176–1193.

  3. Capucci S et al. Dermatitis 2020; 31(3):178–184.

  4. National Eczema Association. Eczema and Emotional Wellness. Available at: https://nationaleczema.org/eczema-emotional-wellness/. Accessed August 2021.

  5. Capozza K et al. Dermatitis 2020; 31(3):223–227.

  6. Manzoni APDS et al. An Bras Dermatol 2013; 88(6):894–899.