Date: 02/13/2020

The effect of ichthyosis on mental health in children and adults leads to a higher prevalence of depression and anxiety, according to a research letter published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

“Many ichthyosis patients have undetected psychiatric distress,” Qisi Sun, BS, of the department of dermatology at Yale University School of Medicine, and colleagues wrote. “They face harassment, discrimination and uncomfortable skin symptoms often only relieved by time-consuming treatments.”

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Researchers surveyed 128 adults (age 17 years and older) and 53 children (age 8 to 16 years) with ichthyosis from the National Ichthyosis Registry to evaluate the effect the disorder has on mental health. Participants completed the Dermatology Life Quality Index or the Children’s Dermatology Life Quality Index to asses quality of life (QoL), the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 or the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale to assess depression, and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale or the Screen for Child Anxiety Related Emotional Disorders to assess anxiety.

In the 128 adults surveyed, 34.4% screened positive for depression, 27.3% screened positive for anxiety and 94.5% experienced QoL impairment from ichthyosis. Adults who reported a very large QoL impact were 1.58 times (P = .004) more likely to report depression, and those who reported an extremely large QoL impact were 2.37 times (P < .001) more likely to report depression. Those who reported a very large and extremely large QoL impact were 1.53 times (P = .007) and 2.29 times (< .001), respectively, more likely to have anxiety.

In the 53 children surveyed, 30.2% screened positive for depression, 37.7% screened positive for anxiety and 85% reported QoL impairment. Children who reported a moderate and very large QoL impact were 1.61 times (P = .009) and 2.97 times (P < .001), respectively, more likely to have depression. Those with QoL impact were more likely to report anxiety if they experienced a moderate impact (P = .04), very large impact (P = .02) or extremely large impact (P = .02).

“The psychological burden of ichthyosis may be alleviated by resilience training, which has shown promise among hidradenitis suppurativa patients,” the researchers wrote. “The high prevalence of depression and anxiety in these patients highlights the need for QoL and mental health screening.” – By Erin Welsh

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