Module: Coping and body image/appearance

Vanessa L. Malcarne, PhD, Professor, Department of Psychology, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA with input from Mary Alore, MBA

Scleroderma presents many challenges. That’s the bad news. The good news is that there are many ways to cope with scleroderma. This module will help you identify challenges and find what works best for you.

This module will also talk about:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Body image and appearance

The challenges

Scleroderma presents many medical challenges. After getting a diagnosis, you must find expert health professionals to manage your treatment, go to medical appointments, make important and sometimes difficult decisions about your care, take medications (often a lot of medications), manage side effects, and deal with pain, fatigue, and disability.

You may also have strong emotional reactions like depression and anxiety. This can be true when scleroderma affects the way you look. Your illness may cause you to have family problems. There may be problems at work if your illness affects your ability to do your job.

Each challenge has many parts. For example, going to a medical appointment may involve:

  • frustrations with scheduling
  • disruptions to your schedule; you may have to take time off from work
  • traveling long distances to see an expert
  • arranging (and perhaps paying for) transportation if you have trouble driving or don’t have a car
  • finding the money to pay for appointments
  • managing insurance issues