How Can People Cope With the Emotional and Psychological Aspects of Vitiligo?
Although vitiligo is usually not harmful medically, its emotional and psychological effects can be devastating. In fact, in India, women with the disease are sometimes discriminated against in marriage. Developing vitiligo after marriage can be grounds for divorce.
Regardless of a person's race and culture, white patches of vitiligo can affect emotional and psychological well-being and self-esteem. People with vitiligo can experience emotional stress, particularly if the condition develops on visible areas of the body (such as the face, hands, arms, and feet) or on the genitals. Adolescents, who are often particularly concerned about their appearance, can be devastated by widespread vitiligo. Some people who have vitiligo feel embarrassed, ashamed, depressed, or worried about how others will react.
Fortunately, there are several strategies to help people cope with vitiligo. Also, various treatments – discussed in the next section – can minimize, camouflage, or, in some cases, even eliminate white patches. First, it is important to find a doctor who is knowledgeable about the disorder and takes it seriously. The doctor should also be a good listener and be able to provide emotional support. You must let your doctor know if you are feeling depressed, because doctors and other mental health professionals can help people deal with depression. You should also learn as much as possible about the disorder and treatment choices so that you can participate in making important decisions about your medical care.
Talking with other people who have vitiligo may also help. Some people with vitiligo have found that cosmetics that cover the white patches improve their appearance and help them feel better about themselves. You may need to experiment with several brands of concealing cosmetics before finding the product that works best.