Psychiatric and psychological co-morbidity in patients with dermatologic disorders: epidemiology and management

Am J Clin Dermatol. 2003;4(12):833-42. doi: 10.2165/00128071-200304120-00003.


Psychiatric and psychological factors play an important role in at least 30% of dermatologic disorders. In many cases the impact of the skin disorder upon the quality of life is a stronger predictor of psychiatric morbidity than the clinical severity of the disorder as per physician ratings. Furthermore, in certain disorders such as acne and psoriasis, the psychiatric co-morbidity, which can be associated with psychiatric emergencies such as suicide, is an important measure of the overall disability experienced by the patient. The severity of depression and increased suicide risk are not always directly correlated with the clinical severity of the dermatologic disorder. Consideration of psychiatric and psychosocial factors is important both for the management, and for some aspects of secondary and tertiary prevention of a wide range of dermatologic disorders. It is useful to use a biopsychosocial model which takes into account the psychological (e.g. psychiatric comorbidity such as major depression and the impact of the skin disorder on the psychological aspects of quality of life) and social (e.g. impact upon social and occupational functioning) factors, in addition to the primary dermatologic factors, in the management of the patient. Some dermatology patients are likely to benefit from psychotherapeutic interventions and psychotropic agents for the management of the psychosocial comorbidity, in addition to the standard dermatologic therapies for their skin disorder.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / psychology
  • Acne Vulgaris / therapy
  • Comorbidity
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / psychology
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / therapy
  • Humans
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / therapy
  • Psoriasis / psychology
  • Psoriasis / therapy
  • Psychotic Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Psychotic Disorders* / therapy
  • Skin Diseases* / psychology
  • Skin Diseases* / therapy
  • Somatoform Disorders / therapy
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Urticaria / psychology
  • Urticaria / therapy