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Magazine

Time to Stop Stressing About Psoriasis

May 25, 2020 · 6 min read

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Your health isn’t just about what you put into your body and how physically active you are. There are a lot of mental and psychological factors that can affect your physical health, too. One of the biggest culprits is stress.

How does stress affect psoriasis?

When we are stressed, the release of a hormone called cortisol is increased. This hormone inhibits the bodily functions that are not essential in dealing with the perceived threat. One thing that is inhibited is the immune system. So, when we are chronically stressed, we are much more likely to develop a cold, an infection, and even more serious conditions.  

Cortisol also inhibits inflammation, so why isn’t it good for psoriasis? The problem, again, comes with chronic stress. Prolonged elevation of cortisol levels makes the hormone less effective at regulating inflammation, contributing to a faulty inflammatory response.

As a result of these mechanisms, someone predisposed to psoriasis is more likely to have the disease triggered during or after times of severe or chronic stress. A patient’s flare-ups are also likely to occur in response to stress, and existing symptoms may become more severe, while psoriasis treatments may become less effective.

The cycle of stress and psoriasis

If a psoriasis patient experiences a lot of stress in their life, then it can become a vicious cycle. During a stressful period, you suffer more flare-ups and experience worse symptoms. This in itself is a source of stress as you desperately try to treat and hide your plaques. The stress from this then worsens your symptoms and makes treatment less effective.

This is why it’s so important for psoriasis patients to manage their stress levels.

How to manage stress better

We can’t avoid stress completely, but we can learn how to manage our response to it. Things like meditation, deep breathing, and exercise are all ways you can destress. It is also worth examining your response the next time you’re feeling stressed over something small.

Ask yourself rationally, is this a healthy or useful way to respond? Think about how this stressor will affect your life in a year or five years’ time. This can help to control your stress response. Using these techniques over time can improve your ability to manage stress.

Getting your stress levels under control could be the key to getting your psoriasis symptoms under control, too.

 

  • Oligschlaeger Y, Yadati T, Houben T, Condello Oliván CM, Shiri-Sverdlov R. Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Stressed “Gut/Feeling”. Cells. (2019)
  • Rigas HM, Bucur S, Ciurduc DM, Nita IE, Constantin MM. Psychological Stress and Depression in Psoriasis Patients – a Dermatologist’s Perspective. Maedica (Buchar). (2019)
  • Thomas J. Stewart BBioMedSc (Hons), MBBS, FRACGP  Winnie Tong BSc(Med), MBBS, FRACP, FRACPA  Margot J. Whitfeld MBBS, MPH&TM, FACD, The associations between psychological stress and psoriasis: a systematic review (2018)