Anecdotally, dermatologists have long known that mood affects skin conditions: psoriasis, eczema and acne all worsen with stress. All of these conditions are inflammatory and therefore impacted by the function/balance of the immune system.
Perhaps we are getting closer to understanding the effect of mood on the immune system based on the findings in a recent article published in JCI. In this VA-cooperative study patients who had untreated depression at the time of administration of the shingles vaccine developed a less robust response to the vaccine than those who either were not depressed or were being treated for their depression. The findings are interesting because they show normalization of the vaccine response once patients began treatment for their depression.
While additional study will be required to understand why this happens we can at least take away that we should be addressing the mood of all of our patients may help them achieve better outcomes.
-Neil A. Shah, MD, FAAD