People who suffer with atopic dermatitis (AD), commonly known as eczema, have an increased likelihood of developing depression and anxiety, which is made worse when additional allergic symptoms are present.
A new study being presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting in Anaheim, Calif. showed that, among the people who suffered with AD, 72% reported poor mental health symptoms for 1–10 days within the past month, while 17% reported more than 11 days.
“People who don’t suffer with AD don’t understand how debilitating it can be,” says Allison Loiselle, Ph.D., lead author on the study for the National Eczema Association. “In addition to the terrible itching and dry, cracked skin, there are often sleep disruptions, and broader impacts on quality of life and overall well-being. Depression and anxiety are among the symptoms of those who deal with AD, and the chronic, unpredictable nature of this condition.”
Of 954 people who completed the survey, 23% were seeing an allergist as part of their eczema care team. For 124 (96 adults and 28 caregivers), their allergist was their/their child’s primary eczema provider.
Most patients reported current AD severity as mild (36%) and 72% reported poor mental health symptoms for 1–10 days within the past month. 17% reported more than 11 days. One third (35%) said they had never brought up mental health with their allergist, and 57% said they had never been asked about it. 45% of respondents said their allergist had referred them to mental health services or resources.
“AD can be extremely hard to live with,” says Tamara Hubbard, MA, LCPC, a counselor who works with parents of those with allergies and asthma and a member of the ACAAI Public Relations Committee. (She was not involved with the study.)
“The itching can be unrelenting, and many also fear AD negatively affects their appearance. AD-related quality of life impacts can include social impairment, emotional and behavioral problems, and significant psychological problems, including depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation.”
“It’s important for patients and health care providers to discuss mental health concerns, and to be aware of resources and trained mental health professionals who can help. Working with an allergist to seek out treatments that reduce the effects of AD, along with a mental health professional, can help address the emotional and psychological toll of AD.”