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Understanding the Link Between Vitiligo and Mental Health | Coping Strategies and Support

Our skin acts as a protective layer and serves many other functions. Apart from this, it is one of the body parts that people get to see. So, people try to keep the skin looking great. However, it becomes hard for people with vitiligo to feel confident on their skin. This in, turn, leads to several mental health issues.

Vitiligo is an autoimmune disorder that results in depigmentation of the skin. It causes distinct patches of discoloration on the body. People with vitiligo go through a lot of stigma which, in, turn impacts their mental health. Depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem are quite common among people with vitiligo. Let us read further and learn more about how vitiligo impacts mental health.

What Makes People With Vitiligo Face Stigma?

According to an Ethiopian survey from 2020, it is known that people with vitiligo have to face stigma due to several reasons. (1) These are certain misconceptions related to vitiligo that can cause stigma. Some of these misconceptions include:

  • Vitiligo is contagious.
  • It is incurable.
  • This condition occurs due to a lack of maintaining a hygiene routine.
  • Vitiligo is linked to a nutrient-deficient diet.
  • It is a sign of leprosy.
  • It is a curse or a punishment from god.

However, it must be noted that none of the above is true.

What Are the Mental Health Effects of Stigma Faced by Vitiligo Patients?

Vitiligo is a chronic condition that can also impact your psychological well-being because it is so visible to others.

An article published in September 2021 in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology mentions that those with vitiligo often experience mental and emotional problems, including low self-esteem, anxiety, sleep problems, loss of identity, negative self-perception, and depression. (2)

A study published in September 2021 in the journal Middle East Current Psychiatry states that about 75% of individuals with vitiligo report suffering from psychiatric problems like stress, anxiety, and depression. (3)

People with vitiligo often feel judged by others looking at their skin. They might feel self-conscious about their appearance and worry thinking how others will look at them. This in turn leads to several mental health issues.

Depression is found to be a serious comorbidity of vitiligo. The most feared morbidity of vitiligo is depression resulting in suicidal ideation. People who poorly cope with their initial diagnosis and disease prognosis, have suicidal ideation in them. (4)

A study conducted in 2019 discovered that people with vitiligo in the U.S. had increased hospitalization for various mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, and suicide. (5)

How to Overcome the Stigma and Prevent Deteriorating of Mental Health in People with Vitiligo?

Below are some ways to overcome the stigma that can also help in preventing the deterioration of mental health in those with vitiligo.

Practice Self-Compassion

Be kind and compassionate towards yourself. Practice self-compassion. It involves talking with yourself as you would talk with a loved one looking for support. Daily affirmations will be effective. So, make it a habit. Also, compliment yourself too often.

Practice Body Positivity

Appreciate your appearance. This will help you live with vitiligo without worries. Try being comfortable with yourself. Be confident with your body.

Raise Awareness

It’s obvious that the more people know about vitiligo, the less they have to assume, and the less will be stigma associated with the condition. So, try to raise awareness related to vitiligo. One of the best ways is social media where you can also your information related to your condition and also participate in outreach programs through various local support organizations.

Talk with Others About Vitiligo

Calmly speaking about vitiligo will help reduce the stigma associated with it. So, talk to others about your condition. Be transparent and tell your story.

Seek Professional Help

If you are experiencing serious symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, or any other mental health issues because of your condition, then seek professional help from a doctor or therapist and treat your symptoms.

Final Thoughts

The stigma associated with vitiligo negatively impacts the patient’s self-esteem and leads to several mental health issues. However, practicing body positivity, raising awareness, and getting professional help will help you deal with the condition and prevent your mental health.

Be known, that you are more than your skin.


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 3, 2024

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