A little side note on the effects of oral steroids. These are powerful medications that are used in a wide variety of conditions to reduce inflammation. They have been around a long time and are considered safe, but come with a host of side effects that patients often struggle with. These include increased blood pressure, weight gain, acne, swelling of the cheeks (patients sometime call these "chipmunk cheeks") or the back of the neck, mood swings, increased appetite, weakening of the immune system, and general swelling or fluid retention. Many of our clients have said they have a love-hate relationship with steroids because they work so well to control their illness symptoms, but the side effects can sometimes be really difficult to deal with.
Adolescence is already a challenging time in life where teens are more aware of their physical appearances, so it makes sense that having lupus and dealing with steroid side effects increases the risks of depression. The authors note the importance of having psychological assessment and help available for teens living with lupus, and we could not agree more. As medicine integrates psychology more into everyday practice, we hope that therapists like Steph and I are better able to serve teens living with chronic medical illness.
If you're in the Chicago area and have a teen who is struggling with depression because of lupus, or any other medical diagnosis, we are here to help.
Appearance concern and depression in adolescent girls with systemic lupus erythematosus
Ji L, Lili S, Jing W, Yanyan H, Min W, Juan X, and Hongmei S. Appearance concern and depression in adolescent girls with systemic lupus erythematosus. Clinical Rheumatology 2012 Sept 9. doi: 10.1007/s10067-012-2071-8. [Epub ahead of print]