Anne Jeffres, 41, an acupuncturist in New York, was in the midst of a stressful time at work when she noticed her scalp was flaking. Her fingers became inflamed; her nails were brittle and pitted. The mild psoriasis she once had as a child had returned in full force. "The flare-up was bad enough that I lost patches of hair on my head," Jeffres says.
"Psoriasis is a lifelong disease" that's mainly inherited, explains Erin Boh, MD, PhD, professor and chair of the dermatology department at Tulane University...
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
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.
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.