Anxiety, depression and psychosomatic symptoms in patients with atopic dermatitis: comparison with normal controls and among groups of different degrees of severity

J Dermatol Sci. 1997 Jan;14(1):63-7. doi: 10.1016/s0923-1811(96)00553-1.


Atopic dermatitis is a common skin disorder. The age distribution is mainly located from infancy to adolescence, which period is the most important for forming character or effecting their psychological condition. We used three types of psychological tests to investigate anxiety, depression and psychosomatic symptoms in 45 patients with atopic dermatitis and 34 normal controls. These tests consisted of the manifest anxiety scale (MAS), self-rating depression scale (SDS) and Cornell Medical Index (CMI). On the MAS, the atopic dermatitis group did not show any statistical difference from normal controls. However, the SDS and the CMI produced statistically significant differences (P < 0.05 and P < 0.01, respectively). Furthermore, we classified their symptom in three degrees of severity (mild: 15; moderate: 14; severe: 16). Patients with mild symptoms did not show any statistical difference from normal controls on the three tests. Patients with moderate symptoms showed a statistically significant difference from normal controls on the SDS (P < 0.01) and the CMI (P < 0.05), but not on the MAS. Finally, patients with severe symptoms (in-patients) produced somewhat lower test scores than those with moderate symptoms. We conclude that the patients with atopic dermatitis were more depressive and psychosomatic symptom-prone than normal controls, and suggest that some patients with atopic dermatitis should be treated both dermatologically and psychiatrically.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / complications*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Depression / complications*
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / complications*
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / pathology
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychological Tests
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / complications*