What do bullous dermatoses have to do with depression?

UC Riverside medical student Yasmin Gutierrez joins a research team to explore the question

October 20, 2021
Author: Iqbal Pittalwala
October 20, 2021

Yasmin Gutierrez, a fourth-year medical student at UC Riverside currently applying to dermatology residency, is a coauthor on a research paper published in JAMA Dermatology that explores the link between bullous dermatoses and depression.

Bullous dermatoses are a collection of blistering diseases that can be debilitating and have significant impact on a patient’s quality of life and mental health.

Yasmin Gutierrez
Yasmin Gutierrez.

“Specifically, our paper included autoimmune blistering diseases such as bullous pemphigoid and pemphigus vulgaris and inherited blistering disease epidermolysis bullosa,” Gutierrez said.

The research team conducted a systematic review looking at the relationship between bullous dermatoses and depression or depressive symptoms and found higher rates of depression and depressive symptoms among patients with bullous skin disease: the prevalence of depressive symptoms among patients with bullous dermatoses ranged from 40-80%, while the prevalence of a depression diagnosis among patients with bullous dermatoses ranged from 11-28%.

“Although studies have investigated the link between depression and other skin diseases such as psoriasis and acne, there is little on the relationship between bullous skin disease and depression,” Gutierrez said. “Our findings highlight that adequate treatment of bullous dermatoses is important to reduce the mental health burden on patients with these skin diseases.”

Gutierrez and Sarah Pourali, a medical student at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and the lead author of the study, reviewed hundreds of abstracts, evaluated 36 full-text articles, and found 17 articles that met their inclusion and exclusion criteria. The research team then analyzed study population and study outcomes data from the 17 articles for the review. Gutierrez helped draft and revise the manuscript.

Pourali invited Gutierrez to contribute to the work. 

“As a first-generation medical student, I have always had a passion for working with underserved populations,” Gutierrez said. “During residency and as an attending, I hope to work closely with underserved and disadvantaged populations to increase accessibility to dermatologic care. I also plan to continue my work in mentorship by offering support to students who are traditionally under-represented in medicine and are interested in pursuing dermatology.”

Gutierrez and Pourali were joined in the research by Alison H. Kohn at Florida Atlantic University; Jeffrey R. Rajkumar at the University of Illinois in Chicago; and Madison E. Jones, Isabela Ortiz, Michelle David, and Dr. April W. Armstrong at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

The research paper is titled “Bullous Dermatoses and Depression: A Systematic Review.”