Psoriasis and stress: Is there a connection?

Although psoriasis is a condition of the immune system, there are a variety of triggers that can cause it to appear. One of those triggers is stress. Why? Physical and mental stress can make the body release certain chemical messengers that can cause pain, itching, and inflammation. The good news is that there are a variety of ways to deal with your stress.

Take control of your feelings

Psoriasis can affect your emotions. For example, you may feel embarrassed or frustrated, which can make it difficult to enjoy social situations. Recognizing your emotions may help you feel better overall. You may also find these suggestions helpful:

  • Don’t apologize for your feelings. It's natural—and perfectly ok—to feel embarrassed, angry, or frustrated
  • Talk to a friend, family member, or counselor. It's important to have someone who will listen to your feelings and concerns. A sympathetic ear and a little support can do wonders
  • Educate yourself. Learn about the possible causes of psoriasis and find tips to help you explain your symptoms to others. You can start by telling people that it's not contagious—it's a lifelong condition of the immune system with symptoms that can appear at any time
  • Take an active approach to treatment. Know your options and keep exploring treatments with your dermatologist until you find one that works for you
  • Tell your doctor how psoriasis is affecting your life. Talk to your dermatologist so that he or she fully understands how psoriasis is affecting you and your life. You can use this Appointment Guide to help you get started
Find a dermatologist near you.

Lose the stress. Feel better.

Staying active by getting involved in a sport, doing activities with friends, or just taking a walk around the block may lift your spirits and help reduce your stress. Below are some activities that may help you unwind and generally feel better. Choose ones that interests you, but be sure to check with your doctor before getting started.

  • Yoga combines a series of body postures and stretches with deep breathing. It is believed that the positions allow muscles to relax and blood flow to improve. As a result, stress and tension are released.
  • Regular exercise can help lower stress and help with relaxation. It has a calming effect on emotions.
  • Meditation involves focusing the mind on a singular thought, word, object, or even on your own breath, for a certain length of time. While it's not fully clear what effects it has on the body, it is believed to relax muscles and improve blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration.
  • Tai chi is a series of movements meant to gently move "chi", or energy, through the body. It is believed that the benefit comes from regular practice and slow improvements in posture and body alignment. The movements themselves are also calming and relaxing.
  • Massage, whether it's Swedish, deep-tissue, reflexology, shiatsu, or acupressure, can be used as a way to help relieve muscle tension, lower stress, and help with relaxation. It can also be used to relieve and manage chronic and acute pain.
  • Visualization and guided imagery teaches you to imagine yourself in a peaceful setting and use the power of your imagination to capture calm feelings.
THE TAKEAWAY
  • Physical and mental stress may cause your symptoms to flare up
  • There are lots of ways to deal with stress
  • Try activities that focus your thoughts away from psoriasis
Did you know?
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