Taking Care of Your Mental and Physical Health in Psoriatic Arthritis

Disease-associated mental stress is a reality that affects disease progression and how bodies responds to treatment, among other things. Anxiety and depression in psoriatic arthritis (PsA) are recognized comorbidities, and it is important to address these issues to ensure patient wellbeing. Here’s why.

A Bit of Background on PsA

An autoimmune disease is one in which a person’s immune system attacks the body’s healthy tissue. PsA is an autoimmune disease. PsA is characterized by:

  • patches of red scaly skin
  • inflammation
  • pain in joints and places where ligaments and tendons attach to the bone

The condition affects men and women equally and typically surfaces between 30 and 50 years of age.

Mental Health and Symptom Burden

A review of results from 24 studies (>31,000 patients) found prevalence of anxiety and depression in psoriatic arthritis patients—1 out of every 3 patients with PsA have mild anxiety and 1 out of 5 had mild depression. These patients reported greater disease activity, which means their mental health status had an impact on their disease.

There is a complex system of mental health issues that exist with psoriatic arthritis, like most chronic illnesses.

The Vicious Cycle

Factors such as:

  • pain due to PsA
  • fatigue
  • sleep issues
  • isolation due to withdrawal from activities and/or work

can lead to stress and depression. Dr. Elaine Husni of the Cleveland Clinic warns about the vicious cycle PsA patients can experience. Being tired, in pain, and wanting to hide their psoriasis can result in reduced activity. Anxiety and depression can affect the person’s ability to adhere to treatment recommendations and self-care. This in turn can accelerate disease symptoms. She urges patients to speak to their rheumatologist and their primary care physician about these mood-related issues. Also, patients should seek consultation with a sleep specialist or mental health expert if needed.

Patient insight

Diane Talbert, who has suffered from PsA for several decades, told Patients Rising, “This disease causes me pain and discomfort, but it can cause emotional pain as well. There are days that I am moody and just want to be left alone. I feel embarrassed and alone. This is not me, but no body understood. There have been times that my self-esteem was low; I felt depressed.”

Taking Care of Your Mental and Physical Health in Psoriatic Arthritis – "This disease causes me pain and discomfort, but it can cause emotional pain as well. There have been times that my self-esteem was low; I felt depressed." -… Click To Tweet

Her advice is to seek help—either expert help or by joining a support group—to handle the emotional burden associated with PsA.

Support and Resources:


Surabhi Dangi-Garimella

Surabhi Dangi-Garimella, Ph.D. is a biologist with academic research experience, who brings her skills and knowledge to the health care communications world. She provides writing and strategic support to non-profit groups via her consultancy, SDG AdvoHealth, LLC.

You’ll receive updates about new resources, patient stories and insights, advocacy work, and alerts about patient-support events.

The latest about patient advocacy

Join our Email List

Get notified about new stories and resources to empower patients and caregivers.