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The Daily Mail
By Corey Charlton for MailOnline
- Hollie McEwen fell into depression after suffering from severe psoriasis
- The ‘beautiful, vibrant’ 28-year-old had first class honours degree in nursing
- She was found hanged after she became tormented by the skin condition
- Inquest heard skin condition played a ‘large part’ in what she decided to do
- Medical professionals had prescribed her drugs to help combat depression
A health visitor with a first class honours degree in nursing was found hanged after she became tormented by her severe skin condition.
Hollie McEwen, a dedicated professional, first suffered psoriasis as a 12-month-old but it eased with treatment.
However, it later reappeared due to stress and the 28-year-old became so depressed she took her own life at home.
Her father Andrew told an inquest: ‘Her condition played a large part in what she decided to do.
‘She was a beautiful, vibrant young woman who felt she couldn’t deal with the condition. She felt this was the only way out.’
The Doncaster hearing was told she had suffered from bulimia as a teenager. Her family believed the eating disorder stemmed from her ongoing issues with her skin condition.
Her mother Wendy said: ‘Her skin condition played a large part in her problems as a teenager and when older I feel this was at the root of all the problems.’
Hollie’s body was found just two days after she had sought medical help for her depression.
She had spent a long time writing several letters to loved ones which were found in a bin.
Her father, who saw her the evening before the tragedy said: ‘She was a happy, young woman who enjoyed her work and social life but she kept everything very close to herself. We had a good laugh on that last night and there was no indication she was unhappy.’
Mrs McEwen said her daughter, who lived in Scawsby, Doncaster, had treatment for psoriasis over the last few years involving hospital staysand steroids after suffering anxiety attacks.
‘She was an intelligent, determined and organised young woman,’ she said. ‘I told her to keep going with the tablets and give it time.’
When told about her daughter’s death she said: ‘I was in absolute shock. Her death has left a large hole in our family. I still can’t understand why this has happened.’
Hollie’s brother Andrew told the inquest: ‘She was a happy young woman who enjoyed her work and social life. She kept everything very close to herself.’
He said there was no indication that she was unhappy the evening before she died. He added: ‘As a teenager she was always conscious of her skin condition and it worried her greatly.’
Hollie’s neighbour Elaine Lunn found a note from her on the morning of Friday, May 23 asking her to call the emergency services so Hollie’s family would not find her body.
She said: ‘I believe she had planned it. There was nothing to suggest prior that she was going to do anything like this. I feel totally distraught.’
She added: ‘She was a very attractive young woman. She was energetic, thoughtful and caring and studied to further her career. She was very bright and intelligent.’
Nurse and friend Angelina Deighton, who trained with Hollie at Sheffield Hallam University, said she knew her psoriasis had worried Hollie and she said she was having treatment and counselling.
‘She was always the life and soul of our friendship group,’ she said. ‘She was always bubbly. She had a boyfriend for a few months in 2013 but it fizzled out and she wasn’t concerned about it.
‘Lately she described being tired, down and just not coping. She had been to her GP for anti-depressants but she didn’t think counselling would help her and she tried to help herself.
‘I tried time and time again to get her to seek help. She had many friends who thought she would never do anything like this.’
Behavioural psychotherapist Jessica Dunn, who had a session with Hollie just two days before she died, said Hollie had started to feel anxious and overwhelmed at having to plan a friend’s hen party.
She was well presented with immaculate hair and make-up,’ said Miss Dunn. She had ‘dark thoughts’ but had no intention of carrying them out. ‘She told me “I wouldn’t put my family through that”.’
Hollie had been avoiding her friends and not socialising because her mood was so low. After breaking down in tears in the witness stand Miss Dunn said: ‘I had no concern for her safety.’
Dr Elena Pamphilon, Hollie’s GP for ten years, said she had come in for repeat prescriptions for medication to treat her psoriasis which she managed herself.
She attended with depression and anxiety towards the end of 2013 and again this year. ‘In May she said she was finding things overwhelming but did not mention any particular trigger.’
PSORIASIS AFFECTS 1.8M PEOPLE
The skin condition — characterised by raised flaking, itching red patches on various parts of the body — affects around 1.8 million people in Britain, most of them first affected before their 40th birthday.
It is an immune condition that causes the body to produce too many new skin cells. The extra cells accumulate and cluster in red, inflamed patches, thickening the skin, which often has a ‘silvery scale’ appearance.
A virus or infection such as tonsillitis — when the immune system is weakened — can trigger the condition in those with a genetic predisposition, as can a stressful event.
Around 30 per cent of people with psoriasis get painful joints — sometimes the joint pain comes before the skin condition appears — because the immune system targets the joints, triggering psoriatic arthritis.
The severity of the condition varies from person to person, for some causing a minor irritation, while for others it has a major impact on their quality of life.
The condition is not contagious, so cannot be spread from person to person.
There is no cure for psoriasis, but a range of treatments can be used to improve symptoms and the appearance of the affected skin patches.
In most cases a sufferer will be prescribed creams and ointments to ease the symptoms.
The doctor gave her sertraline, an anti-depressant drug, but a fortnight later Hollie’s mood had worsened and she went back.
‘She may have had to wait longer to see the benefits of the drug,’ said Dr Pamphilon. ‘There isn’t a drug to give more immediate relief.’
Assistant Doncaster coroner Fred Curtis said: ‘She was a young lady who has achieved well in just about everything she has done.’
Although suffering from psoriasis and bouts of anxiety and depression she was ‘happy and active’ until her mood began to change towards the end of 2013.
‘She had the most loving of families – a family that really cared for her,’ said the coroner. ‘They were aware of some of the problems but never the full extent thereafter not because of any fault on their part because Hollie did not reveal the full extent of the depression she suffered at times.’
She never told her family, doctors or friends about her suicide plans. ‘During the spring of 2014 her mood was at all times lower than that recognised by anyone,’ said the coroner.
‘That’s not to criticise her family or health services. It may be down in part to the fact that she cared for so many people she didn’t want them to believe she had a very low mood and didn’t want to distress them.’
He said her death involved planning ‘which she kept from everyone.’
Recording a suicide verdict he extended his sympathies to the family and said: ‘She had been successful and had a good future ahead of her.’