Stress and Psoriasis

Stress and psoriasis seem to go together. Stress can make psoriasis worse, and psoriasis can make you stressed. But there are ways to ease stress that may help your psoriasis, too.

Learn techniques to relax. Try one of these stress-busters:

They can lower stress and may even help your treatment. One study found that people who listened to meditation tapes while they got light therapy did twice as well as those who only got light therapy.

Long walks and long baths are also good ways to ease stress.

Get a massage. A good massage can:

  • Ease muscle tension
  • Lower stress
  • Help you relax

If you can, find a massage therapist who has worked with people who have psoriasis.

Trust your doctor. To ease stress, you need to have faith in your doctor to work out the best plan for your treatment. You are partners. If you don't feel like you are, or if you have doubts about your treatment plan, see another doctor.

Get professional help. If you find stress and psoriasis hard to handle -- or feel very anxious or depressed -- see a mental health therapist.

A therapist can help you manage some of the hard emotional issues that stem from life with psoriasis. A therapist can also teach you useful ways to calm stress.

Get better treatment. Psoriasis treatment itself can sometimes be stressful. But it can also be the best cure for both your stress and psoriasis. If you have good control of your condition, you get rid of the core cause of your stress.

How Psoriasis Causes Stress

Experts aren't sure how psoriasis and stress are linked. It may have to do with an effect on the immune system. Some people have their first flare of psoriasis during a very stressful time in their life.

So what aspects of psoriasis may cause stress?

Stigma. Living with psoriasis can make you self-conscious and ashamed. Any aspect of being social can be stressful, from going on a date to shaking someone's hand.

Finances. Psoriasis treatments can be costly. A year's supply of biologic drugs can cost more than $25,000. And even cheaper treatments add up.

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Pain. Psoriasis can cause chronic pain, which adds a constant level of stress in your life. Sometimes the pain can make day-to-day actions hard. If you have arthritis in your joints, this is more likely.

Treatment. Some treatments don't work, which can lead to stress. Other treatments can take up a lot of your time. For instance, you might need to get light therapy 3 times a week for up to a year. Fitting that into your schedule can be tricky. And drug side effects can also be a strain.

Life with a chronic condition. Sometimes psoriasis can wear you down. You may also sometimes find yourself anxious about the future.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Debra Jaliman, MD on November 02, 2015

Sources

SOURCES: 

Robert Brodell, MD, professor of internal medicine, dermatology section, Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine, Rootstown, Ohio. 

Mark Lebwohl, MD, chairman, medical board, National Psoriasis Foundation; chairman, department of dermatology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York University. 

Alan Menter, MD, president, International Psoriasis Council; director, Psoriasis Research, Baylor Research Institute, Dallas. 

National Psoriasis Foundation: "Fact Sheet: CAM and Integrative Medicine," "Mind and Body."

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