Not just joints and tendons: PsA can affect your brain too

Many of us cope with anxiety and depression as well as sore joints, aching tendons and blotchy skin. Enough to make anybody depressed, right? Well, as with most things, there is more to it than that. Here’s some research that comes out of the clinic where I’m a patient. I remember doing the depression questionnaire on one of my visits, and I’m pleased to think that I’m doing my little bit for PsA research, and other PsA patients.

So are we dealing with chickens or eggs, you ask? Does my Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis make me depressed, or does my depression make my disease worse? Apparently some researchers would answer “yes”. It would appear that depression and PsA are very much connected, and that one can make the other worse.

Besides questioning the relationship between psoriatic disease and depression, some other researchers are looking into the notion that the same biological mechanism that triggers inflammation in psoriatic disease may also create changes in the brain that affect emotional states. This is an interesting article about the research into the relationship between depression and psoriatic disease.

Does depression happen to us as a result of the pain and the stress of having psoriatic disease, or do psoriatic disease and depression have a common cause? The answer isn’t clear, but what is clear for me is that I should probably have a rheumatologist for my PsA as well as a psychiatrist if I’m suffering depression and anxiety. And exactly how is that going to happen? Dr. John Koo, who is both a dermatologist and a psychiatrist, has this to say here :

Because their doctors may not be trained in psychiatry, or have the opportunity to address emotional issues during office visits, patients should take the lead to address emotional difficulties they may be experiencing.

I guess we need to make it clear to our rheumatologists when our brain hurts as much as our joints do, even if the brain isn’t their department.

If you’re suffering depression and anxiety along with your PsA, it’s not a coincidence, and you must not suffer in silence. One makes the other worse. So tell your doctors: one of them needs to address this issue, either directly or by referring you to someone can help, because the help is there. And with everything you put up with, you deserve it.


There is also a discussion thread on this topic, where you can make comments or ask questions, here.

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