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Vitiligo and Depression: What’s the connection?

Vitiligo, for being a dermatological problem, affects an individual’s emotional and psychological well being. Many vitiligo fighters report embarrassment, helpless and low self-esteem during the progression of the chronic skin disorder. Since vitiligo affects an individual’s marital, sex life and intimacy, it often generates psychological distress and disrupts the social relationship, creating a vicious stress-vitiligo cycle.

As confirmed in many observational studies, psychiatric morbidity (such as depression) is found more frequent in young vitiligo fighters and higher in people having lesions on exposed body areas.
Sadly, the variability in study design makes it difficult to quantify the accurate relationship between depression and vitiligo. Hence, practitioners should actively evaluate people with vitiligo for signs of depression and provide appropriate referrals to manage the psychiatric symptoms accordingly.

The after-effect of depression on Vitiligo Fighters

Since vitiligo is a skin disorder, depression can be overlooked many times. If an individual complains about low energy level, and experiences weight loss, excessive sleep, reduced or diminished sexual function, he/she should be tested for clinical depression. There are other signs too which can help in the diagnosis of depression in vitiligo. These symptoms are

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • A depressed mood that lasts longer for at least two weeks
  • Juggling thoughts about yourself, or the world
  • Getting up early in the morning

What must be noted is that these symptoms can worsen the effect of vitiligo on an individual, and tend to slow down the treatment process as well. Therefore, depression in vitiligo should be treated beforehand.

How can depression be treated in vitiligo?

Different people experience different symptoms of depression in vitiligo, thus, one treatment is not viable for everyone. Many patients may recover through medications like Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), while others may need therapy sessions and counseling to come out of the depression. Other medicines like Dopamine Agonists may have an antidepressant effect on an individual with vitiligo.

Treating depression in vitiligo may call for extensive care and use of both the methods clinical as well as the alternative. While the clinical method can be helpful in releasing and balancing the chemicals in the brain, the alternative method such as exercises and meditation can calm the mind and release stress. One such alternative method is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, where the patient is told how to filter the negative thoughts and inculcate positive habits in him. A healthy diet along with a good sleep can slow the levels of anxiety.

Yoga can help in vitiligo. It can help in inducing calm, making the patient feel light and relaxed. The Pranayama discipline of Yoga can bring about a change in a vitiligo fighter’s daily life if practiced regularly. Joining a support group can also help a great deal as it feels better to talk to someone with the same condition. With these above-mentioned treatments, one can effectively deal with depression and carry on with his/her normal course of treatment to curb down the other challenges posed by vitiligo.

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