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Sexual Dysfunction and Depression Rates Are Higher Among People With Psoriasis and PsA, Study Finds

Posted on January 11, 2022
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Medically reviewed by
Ariel D. Teitel, M.D., M.B.A.
Article written by
Brooke Dulka, Ph.D.

  • Research shows that individuals with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis (PsA) are more likely to experience sexual dysfunction compared to the general population.
  • The study also found that individuals with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis were more likely to experience depression compared to people without the conditions.
  • Researchers recommended that health care providers be mindful of these potential comorbidities and address them during medical consultations.

More than 75 percent of people living with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis experience sexual dysfunction, a new study has found. Moreover, rates of depression are higher among people with psoriasis and PsA compared to those without — particularly among women.

Past studies have shown that chronic inflammation — an underlying cause of psoriasis and PsA — is associated with both sexual dysfunction and depression. Findings from this study — which investigated this link in the context of psoriasis — were presented at the American College of Rheumatology Convergence 2021 conference.

Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Impact Mood and Sexuality

The study, led by Sebastian Saur at two German university hospitals, examined the influence of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis on sexuality and mood, notably depression. The participants were evaluated using a questionnaire that measured sexual functions and specific aspects of disease. Additionally, researchers measured participants’ levels of depression using a tool called the Beck’s Depression Inventory.

The study included 219 individuals with psoriasis and 197 with psoriatic arthritis. The control group included 206 people. The study evaluated the psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis groups separately.

Altogether, this research team found that the prevalence of sexual dsysfunction — including erectile dysfunction — was notably higher in individuals with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis compared to healthy controls. They also found that study participants with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis were more likely to experience depression. Although this was true in both males and females, females were much more at risk.

Specifically, the researchers found that:

  • 82.6 percent of people with psoriasis and 75.6 percent with PsA reported experiencing sexual dysfunction, compared 44.8 percent of those in the control group.
  • Among females, 50.1 percent with PsA and 34 percent of those with psoriasis reported experiencing depression, compared to 3.5 percent of those in the female control group.
  • 23.2 percent of males with psoriasis and 29.9 percent of those with PsA reported experiencing depression, compared to 8.5 percent of those in the male control group.

Doctors Need To Understand and Address Comorbidities

This study is unique because it examines psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis as individual diseases rather than combining them. This allows scientists to better determine the specific effects of each condition.

How diseases interact (or are comorbid with one another) is also important because treating a person is more difficult when they have multiple conditions. Clinicians need to be aware that the diseases can co-occur. It is also important for the individual with the disease and their carers to understand this as well.

“Our work shows the impact of chronic diseases, such as [psoriasis] and PsA, on the sexuality and mood of our patients in a large collective,” the researchers concluded. “In patients who suffer from additional articular disease in combination with skin disease, the proportion of erectile dysfunction and depression is particularly high. Physicians should pay more attention to these common comorbidities and consciously address [them] during the medical consultations.”

Ariel D. Teitel, M.D., M.B.A. is the clinical associate professor of medicine at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about him here.
Brooke Dulka, Ph.D. is a freelance science writer and editor. She received her doctoral training in biological psychology at the University of Tennessee. Learn more about her here.

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