Vitiligo: How To Overcome Mental Health Challenges
People affected by vitiligo may experience self-consciousness, particularly if the condition affects their facial area or if the discolouration is particularly noticeable on their skin
The skin, encompassing your entire external surface, serves as the largest organ of your body. Not only does it function as a protective layer with numerous purposes, but it also serves as a visible aspect of your physical appearance.
Vitiligo, an autoimmune disorder, leads to depigmentation of the skin. This condition can manifest as distinct patches of discolouration appearing on one or both sides of the body. While there may be periods of stability, experts consider vitiligo to be a progressive condition.
Moreover, the presence of stigma surrounding vitiligo can have detrimental effects on mental well-being when others react negatively, often influenced by prevalent myths and misconceptions about the condition.Reasons behind the stigma
Stigma arises from common misconceptions regarding vitiligo, including:
Contagiousness: There is a false belief that vitiligo can be transmitted from person to person.
Incurability: People may wrongly assume that vitiligo cannot be treated or managed.
Hygiene neglect: Some individuals may associate vitiligo with a lack of proper hygiene practices, leading to unwarranted stigmatisation.
Connection to leprosy: Erroneously, vitiligo is linked to leprosy, a misunderstanding that contributes to the stigma surrounding the condition.
Nutritional deficiency: A misconception suggests that vitiligo is caused by a deficiency in certain nutrients within an individual's diet.
Hereditary nature: Some people mistakenly believe that vitiligo is solely inherited and thus perpetuate the stigma associated with it.
Risk of skin cancer: There is an unfounded notion that vitiligo predisposes individuals to developing skin cancer.
Divine punishment: Certain people associate vitiligo with being a punishment from a higher power or multiple deities.
Curse: Vitiligo may be incorrectly perceived as a curse placed upon individuals.
Spiritual attack: Some individuals attribute vitiligo to a spiritual assault or malicious influence.
The psychological impact of stigma on mental health
While vitiligo may not typically lead to significant physical complications, it can have profound psychological effects.
People with vitiligo experience moderate to severe levels of stress which can lead to anxiety and depression.
It has been found that self-esteem and feelings of embarrassment stemming from vitiligo influence daily decision-making processes. These challenges could manifest in choices such as selecting appropriate clothing, deciding what foods to eat, or even determining whether to participate in social events.
People living with this condition may feel constantly judged simply based on others observing their skin. They may experience self-consciousness regarding their appearance and worry that they will be subjected to stares or insensitive comments while in public. The presence of stigma amplifies the impact of vitiligo on mental health, intensifying the inner struggles with self-esteem and reinforcing the notion that people may face unspoken (and occasionally overt) negative judgments.
Unfavourable attitudes can result in discrimination, marginalisation, bullying, and other forms of callous treatment. According to a study conducted, both males and females living with vitiligo are affected by stigma, and the experience of stigma is strongly associated with a diminished quality of life and increased rates of depression.
How to Overcome Stigma and Embrace Your Skin
The foundation of kindness and acceptance begins within yourself. When your inner voice is filled with harshness and criticism, it becomes challenging to avoid the negative emotions that often accompany vitiligo. Practising self-compassion means engaging in compassionate self-talk and embracing your humanity, without subjecting yourself to punishment for circumstances beyond your control.
By increasing people's awareness of facts, their reliance on assumptions decreases. You don't need to expose yourself to public scrutiny to contribute to the dissemination of information. Social media provides an excellent platform to share information about vitiligo. Additionally, you can engage in outreach initiatives organised by local support organisations.
Embrace your inner strength
Your appearance is just a fraction of your true essence. When you find yourself feeling disheartened by a specific aspect, such as your skin, empowering other facets of your being can reignite your confidence.
This could include various endeavours, such as nurturing a passion like painting or acquiring a new skill that fosters self-assurance and resilience, like weightlifting or martial arts.
Engage in discussions
While it's natural to prefer not having to explain your skin condition to others, speaking calmly and factually about vitiligo can help combat the stigma surrounding it. Sharing your personal story in a way that makes you comfortable can promote understanding and empathy.
Seek mental health assistance
If vitiligo begins to disrupt your normal daily life, hindering your ability to enjoy your hobbies, maintain relationships with loved ones, form new connections, it may be beneficial to seek support from a therapist or another qualified mental health professional.
Vitiligo results in the loss of skin pigmentation, which can have a detrimental impact on one's self-esteem and mental well-being due to the stigma associated with it, often fueled by false beliefs and misunderstandings. Remember, your worth extends far beyond the appearance of your skin, and dismantling stigma begins with practising self-compassion. By enhancing knowledge about vitiligo, discussing it accurately, and finding empowerment in various aspects of your life, you can effectively challenge the negative assumptions imposed by others.
Disclaimer: The above content is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of a qualified physician or doctor. The Company does not vouch for or endorse any of the above content, and disclaims any and all warranties, express or implied, relating to the same.