Many people with psoriasis notice a significant worsening of their psoriasis symptoms when they are experiencing stressful situations in their lives. Likewise, living with psoriasis can be a source of stress itself, creating a cycle that leads to frequent flare-ups. Stress can even prevent medications and other treatments from working as well as they could. Stress management is an important tool for those with psoriasis.
An effective approach to stress management can help lessen psoriasis symptoms, but it cannot cure psoriasis. Stress management is not a substitute for clinically proven psoriasis drug therapies.
What does it involve?
There are many different approaches to stress management. You can try different methods until you find one that works for you.
Deep breathing is a simple technique you can do anywhere to help relieve stress.
Exercise can be a very effective way to manage stress in addition to providing other health benefits. Any type of exercise can reduce stress, including walking. Choose an activity you enjoy and can regularly do. Tai chi and yoga are ancient forms of exercise that involve moving your body gently into a variety of poses. Many people find them especially effective at reducing stress. You can do tai chi or yoga at home while watching DVDs or online videos that guide you through the poses. If you prefer, you can join a class to incorporate social aspects.
Some people find meditation to be useful in managing stress. You can meditate sitting, lying down, or walking. One popular form of meditation called mindfulness involves focusing on your breathing and accepting the present moment without judging it as good or bad. You can meditate at home on your own or in a class. Some people meditate silently, while others prefer to listen to live or recorded guidance. Prayer may help reduce stress in similar ways.
Massage can help promote relaxation and reduce stress. Try to choose a massage therapist who has worked with people who have psoriasis.
Maintaining a strong social support network can help reduce stress. Make time to meet friends and family or keep in touch over the phone. Online social networks are also a good way to keep connected and get support.
Psoriasis treatments can be a cause of stress due to cost, inconvenience, or side effects. Minimize stress related to healthcare by making sure that you have the best possible relationship with your physician. Be open about your condition and share any concerns you have about treatment. If you feel your doctor does not communicate well or take your concerns seriously, consider switching doctors.
If you experience feelings of intense depression or anxiety, consider seeking treatment with a mental health therapist. A therapist can help you navigate through stressful situations and find better ways of handling your emotions. When choosing a therapist, try to find one who has experience working with people who have psoriasis.
For those with high levels of stress whose psoriasis is strongly linked to disease activity, it may be worthwhile to consider trying drug therapy such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication. If you think you might benefit from medication, ask your doctor or therapist for a referral to a psychiatrist.
Managing your stress levels can help improve your psoriasis symptoms, shorten the length of flare-ups, help make treatment more effective, and prevent additional flare-ups.
A 2011 article reviewed clinical studies relating to the relationship between psoriasis and stress. Results indicated that high levels of stress correlated to increased psoriatic disease activity in the weeks that followed. Another study covered in the review found evidence that high levels of stress may slow the beneficial effects of medication and light therapy on psoriasis.
In one survey, 62 percent of adults who said that they used exercise or walking as a way to reduce stress said that it was an effective technique.
Exercise can be uncomfortable or embarrassing for some people with psoriasis.
If you live in a small community, it may be difficult to switch doctors.
Some health insurance plans do not pay for psychological therapy, or only pay for a limited number of sessions.
Massage therapy can be expensive.
Antidepressants can cause inconvenient side effects such as weight gain, sleepiness, and sexual dysfunction. Anti-anxiety medications can be addictive.