Disclosure: As a BetterHelp affiliate, we receive compensation from BetterHelp if you purchase products or services through the links provided.

In recent years, the remarkable progress made in medical science has led to the development of innovative treatments for a myriad of health conditions.

Among these groundbreaking advancements, Otezla (apremilast) emerged as a promising therapeutic option for individuals grappling with psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and other autoimmune disorders

Otezla’s mechanism of action, centered around modulating specific cellular processes, has brought relief to countless patients burdened by the often-debilitating symptoms of these conditions.

However, as the medical community has delved deeper into the effects of Otezla, a perplexing observation has emerged – a potential link between the medication and the onset of depression or depressive symptoms.

In this article, we’re going to explore why Otezla, a treatment known for helping the body, might sometimes have a negative effect on the mind. We want to understand why this might happen and learn about the reasons behind it.

The Signs and Symptoms of Depression

Depression extends its grip far beyond mere feelings of sadness. The signs and symptoms of depression encompass a spectrum of experiences that affect not only one’s emotions but also cognitive function, physical health, and interpersonal relationships.

Recognizing these manifestations is important for early intervention and effective management, as the journey through depression can be complicated and multifaceted.

1. Pervasive Sadness or Emptiness: 

At the heart of depression lies an overwhelming sense of sadness or emptiness that colors one’s perception of the world. This emotional weight can be all-encompassing, making even the most simple tasks seem impossible.

2. Anhedonia: 

Anhedonia, or the inability to derive pleasure from activities that were once enjoyable, is a hallmark of depression. Hobbies, passions, and social interactions lose their allure, contributing to a sense of isolation and detachment.

3. Fatigue and Energy Depletion:

Depression can drain an individual’s energy reserves, leading to persistent fatigue and a profound lack of motivation. Even simple tasks can become difficult challenges, further exacerbating the cycle of inactivity and low mood.

4. Cognitive Impairment: 

The cognitive impact of depression cannot be understated. Difficulties in concentration, memory recall, and decision-making become common, often referred to as “brain fog.” This cognitive cloudiness can impede professional and personal functioning.

5. Changes in Appetite and Weight: 

Depression can disrupt one’s relationship with food, leading to changes in appetite and weight. Some individuals experience a loss of appetite, resulting in weight loss, while others turn to food for comfort, leading to weight gain. These fluctuations add to the physical and emotional toll.

6. Sleep Disturbances: 

Sleep becomes an elusive sanctuary for those grappling with depression. Insomnia, characterized by difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, can exacerbate emotional turmoil.

On the other hand, some individuals experience hypersomnia, where they sleep excessively but wake up feeling unrefreshed.

The Impact of Depression

Depression’s impact extends beyond the individual’s emotional state, touching every facet of life and leaving an indelible mark on the canvas of existence.

From interpersonal relationships to occupational performance, the reach of depression is pervasive, underscoring the urgent need for effective interventions and support systems.

1. Strained Relationships: 

Communication becomes strained, and emotional distance can form between individuals and their loved ones. Depression’s tendency to isolate can lead to feelings of detachment and misunderstanding, eroding the bonds that once provided solace.

2. Occupational Functioning: 

The workplace, often a crucible of productivity, can become a battleground for those wrestling with depression. Reduced concentration, memory lapses, and diminished motivation can impair job performance, potentially leading to professional setbacks.

3. Social Withdrawal: 

The desire to retreat from social interactions is a common manifestation of depression. Engaging with others may feel exhausting or futile, leading to self-imposed isolation that exacerbates the emotional struggle.

4. Physical Health Compromised: 

Depression and physical health are intertwined in a complex dance. The chronic stress and inflammation associated with depression can weaken the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections and illnesses.

5. Risk of Substance Abuse: 

In an attempt to self-medicate or escape the emotional pain, some individuals with depression turn to alcohol or drugs. Substance abuse can further compound the challenges of managing depression and lead to a vicious cycle of dependency.

6. Impaired Decision-Making: 

Depression’s impact on cognitive function can extend to decision-making processes. Individuals may struggle to make sound judgments, leading to choices that perpetuate the cycle of depression or have negative consequences in various areas of life.

Understanding Otezla:

Image Credit: verywellmind.com

Apremilast, available under the brand name Otezla and various others, stands as a pharmaceutical solution aimed at addressing specific manifestations of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, two chronic conditions characterized by the immune system’s aberrant responses.

Beyond its applications in these contexts, there is potential for Apremilast to contribute to the management of a spectrum of immune system-related inflammatory disorders.

The administration of Apremilast involves oral intake, making it a convenient option for individuals seeking therapeutic relief from the burdens of psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and potentially other immune-mediated inflammatory conditions. 

As it seeks to modulate underlying mechanisms that contribute to these disorders, Apremilast presents a novel approach in the arsenal of treatments available to patients, offering a ray of hope for improved quality of life amidst the challenges posed by autoimmune and inflammatory afflictions.

The Otezla-Depression Connection:

While Otezla undoubtedly plays a pivotal role in the realm of autoimmune condition management, recent speculation has cast a spotlight on a potential association between this medication and the development of depression. 

Research has shown that Otezla could potentially lead to decreased mood, depression, and heightened thoughts of suicide. Studies have indicated that about 1% of individuals undergoing Otezla treatment for psoriatic arthritis mentioned experiencing depression or a low mood.

The likelihood of these symptoms was somewhat higher among those with psoriasis, with 1.3% indicating a dip in mood compared to 0.8% using a placebo.

Discontinuation of treatment due to depression occurred in 0.3% of people with psoriatic arthritis and 0.1% of those with psoriasis.

The exact mechanism by which Otezla could potentially lead to depression is currently not well-defined and requires further research for clarification.

Navigating the use of this medication and its effects on mental health demands a nuanced understanding of the interplay between biological, psychological, and environmental factors.

Otezla and Suicidal Thoughts

Adding to the issue is the unexpected revelation that some individuals have reported experiencing suicidal thoughts and behaviors while taking Otezla.

During the drug’s clinical trials, a few individuals experienced suicidal thoughts as an indicator of severe depression. Nevertheless, such instances were relatively rare.

This casts light on the depth of the interplay between medications and the different psychological factors, suggesting that the impacts of a medication can extend far beyond its intended scope, and reminding us of the vast complexity that underpins our mental well-being.

Mindful Considerations and Holistic Approaches for Otezla Usage:

For individuals considering or currently taking Otezla, it’s important to approach the medication with mindfulness and a holistic perspective:

1. Communication with Healthcare Providers: 

Open dialogue with healthcare professionals is vital. If a patient has a history of depression or is experiencing mood changes while taking Otezla, discussing these concerns with a medical expert can lead to informed decisions about potential adjustments to the treatment plan.

2. Risk-Benefit Evaluation: 

The potential benefits of Otezla in managing autoimmune conditions need to be weighed against any potential risks, including the risk of depressive symptoms.

Healthcare providers can guide patients in assessing these factors based on their individual medical history and circumstances.

3. Comprehensive Mental Health Care: 

For individuals with pre-existing mental health conditions, or those who experience mood changes while taking Otezla, incorporating mental health support into their treatment plan is crucial. This might include therapy, counseling, or other evidence-based interventions.

4. Lifestyle Factors:

Adopting a holistic approach to health involves looking beyond medications. Engaging in regular physical activity, maintaining a balanced diet, practicing stress management techniques, and prioritizing sleep can collectively contribute to overall well-being and potentially mitigate the risk of depression.

Support and Guidance with BetterHelp:

BetterHelp, a leading online counseling platform, offers a beacon of hope for individuals seeking support, guidance, and healing in their battle against depression.

With its accessible and confidential approach to therapy, BetterHelp provides a lifeline that can help individuals find their way back to a place of emotional well-being.

The weight of depression often makes reaching out for help a daunting task. BetterHelp removes barriers by offering therapy that is accessible from the comfort of your own home.

This convenience means that geographical constraints, transportation challenges, and scheduling conflicts no longer have to stand in the way of seeking professional support.

BetterHelp boasts a diverse network of licensed and experienced therapists who specialize in various areas, including depression and mood disorders. This variety ensures that you can find a therapist who resonates with your needs and preferences, fostering a strong therapeutic alliance.


Through a comprehensive analysis of available research and medical insights, it becomes evident that while Otezla has shown promising results in treating various inflammatory conditions, some individuals may experience depressive symptoms as a side effect.

The exact mechanism behind this is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve changes in certain chemicals in the brain.

It’s important for patients and healthcare providers to be aware of this potential risk and to monitor any mood changes or signs of depression while using Otezla.

If such symptoms arise, consulting a medical professional is advised to determine the best course of action.


Can Otezla’s effects on mood occur regardless of pre-existing mental health conditions?

While the potential link between Otezla and depression is being investigated, it’s important to note that changes in mood can sometimes occur in individuals without pre-existing mental health conditions.

Monitoring and discussing any shifts in emotional well-being with a healthcare provider is recommended for all patients, regardless of their mental health history.

Are there factors that could increase the risk of developing depression while taking Otezla?

Certain factors, such as a history of depression, a family history of mood disorders, or experiencing high levels of stress, might potentially increase the risk of developing depression while taking Otezla.

Can discontinuing Otezla lead to an improvement in mood?

Abruptly stopping medication without medical supervision can have unintended consequences, so any decisions about discontinuation should be made in consultation with a healthcare provider.

What steps can I take If I suspect Otezla is affecting my mood?

If you suspect that Otezla might be affecting your mood or contributing to depressive symptoms, it’s crucial to take proactive steps.

Reach out to your healthcare provider to discuss your concerns, undergo a comprehensive evaluation, and collaboratively determine the best course of action.

Can lifestyle changes help mitigate the risk of depression while taking Otezla?

Engaging in regular physical activity, maintaining a balanced diet, practicing stress management techniques, and prioritizing sufficient sleep can collectively contribute to overall well-being and potentially mitigate the risk of depression, even when taking Otezla.

Additional Posts:

  1. Can Invega Cause Depression
  2. How Does An ESA Help With Depression
  3. What is HCC Depression [Causes and Implications]
  4. Is Ashwagandha Good for Bipolar Depression
  5. What Anxiety Medication can you take with Suboxone



Therapists that Understand You!

Find a therapist that fully understands ALL of you. Speaking with someone who has a similar cultural background and view on the world can be very comforting.

Find a Therapist that get YOU!