The quality of life impact of HS/AI, is severe. HS/AI can impact self-esteem, personal, social and work relationships, functions of daily living, and intimacy, to name a few. Some have even reported feelings of suicide.
Mental health is just as important as our physical health!
Many with HS have stated they feel they live in hiding, and that secret is not only painful and sometimes has an odor but also causes stress beyond what most of us can imagine. Many with HS report that stress by itself is one of the triggers they notice in disease flaring. The disease and the stress are very hard on all who encounter HS/AI, including physicians and surgeons, our staff members and especially those with HS and their family members and/or caregivers.
Anxiety is a constant when you are hiding something even in your most intimate moments. And years of hiding and failing to find successful treatment causes even more anxiety and sometimes a second effect, depression. It may not be life-destroying but it certainly takes the fun out of life. Some with HS have a built-in happy personality, others are very tolerant of their situation, some are resigned. Many are angry at the disease, their doctors, the cost of their medications, the pain, the smell, the expense, and the embarrassment. Everyone is unique, and the way each person handles any struggle in life is equally unique. The need for help may vary from person to person from time to time, and allowing ‘venting’ is sometimes part of the help we need to offer.
Inner strength is great, but additional support is sometimes needed. Consider the stress of this question – ‘What if I reveal my secret and that ends a valued relationship?’ Family support is needed, or a sympathetic counselor, or a primary care physician willing to dig in and help, but professional psychological or psychiatric support may sometimes be needed to bring a serious depression around to the point that the ‘patient’ has enough energy to get to work with the problem. Often a support group is more validating as you can interact with others in very similar experiences.
It may be beneficial to seek a licensed therapist or psychiatrist who is experienced in the management of chronic diseases or chronic pain. Many therapists also cover areas such as relationship counseling and sexual health. Some persons may require medicinal treatment to treat their depression and/or anxiety issues.
Some with HS have reported the following types of mental health treatments to be effective for them:
If you are experiencing thoughts of self-harm, we urge you to seek help immediately.
The National Suicide Prevention offers the ability to chat via text. To use this service: text “GO” to 741-741
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available by phone24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255
To locate a mental and emotional health provider, Psychology Today is an easy-to-use resource. Searches may be performed for the desired location, along with topics such as; experience with chronic pain, relationships and sexual health:
Emotional Support Animal – information and medical necessity letter templates: