The uncomfortable symptoms of atopic dermatitis (AD) often trigger psychological stress. We investigated the association between AD severity and outpatient visits to psychiatrists using Korean National Health Insurance claims data from 2004 to 2013. This was a retrospective cohort analysis; we estimated hazard ratios (HRs). Of the 266,182 subjects, 18,290 (6.9%) had a history of visiting a psychiatrist, and 25,419 (9.5%) were diagnosed with AD. Compared with the subjects without AD, subjects with AD had a higher HR for visiting a psychiatrist (3.70, 95% confidence interval [CI]:48 3.43-3.98), and this significantly increased as the complexity of the AD medications increased. Subjects who received topical treatments plus a systematic steroid (HR: 4.88, 95% CI: 4.51-5.27) and those who received topical treatments plus a systematic steroid plus a systematic calcineurin inhibitor (HR: 9.56, 95% CI: 4.29-21.28) had higher HRs compared with those without AD. Severe AD patients exhibited greater psychological stress than those without AD or with mild AD symptoms. Moreover, medication diversity may represent an efficient and low-cost method by which to identify a vulnerable population.
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