Breaking the Stress-Psoriasis-Stress Cycle

The link between stress and psoriasis.

The link between psoriasis and stress is not grounds for breaking news. Even the most basic online search will turn up studies going back decades, with countless blog and magazine articles to match. And one thing they all seem to agree on? Dealing with psoriasis-related stress is much like dealing with any other stress—something that pretty much everyone has had to deal with at one point or another since the dawn of time.

There’s a simple comfort in knowing we’re not alone in something—and that’s never been truer than when dealing with stress. Whether your own daily challenges in life are tied to work, money, relationships or psoriasis, it’s all too easy for one or more of them to build into a stress spiral. And, with psoriasis, this can be especially challenging. While scientists don’t yet know the exact connection between stress and psoriasis, it does appear to be linked to inflammation.

The Inflammation Factor

When experiencing stress, inflammation is the body’s natural response, but, because immune systems tend to be over-responsive in people with psoriasis, this can lead to too much inflammation and result in flareups. In turn, flareups can then cause even more stress and aggravation, making it a tricky cycle to break.  And while there’s no magic solution, some good old fashioned stress management can do wonders.

For a crash course on managing stress, the American Heart Association has a great article, 3 Tips to Manage Stress. It begins by highlighting the importance of positive thinking. This is often easier said than done, but can be made simpler when combined with the article’s “emergency stress stoppers” and “stress-busting activities,” things like breathing exercises, taking a walk or even petting a dog—all things that are easily done, and that, over time, can have a profound impact on breaking the stress cycle.

For a slightly more in-depth look at effective tactics for dealing with stress, Psychology Today published an article, 7 Ways Mentally Strong People Deal With Stress, which focuses on the importance of health, perspective, balance, and acceptance. Finding a way to get your head around what you can and cannot change is a huge part of managing stress, as is finding healthy new habits to help you move forward accordingly.

While stress-management tools like yoga, exercise and music can help alleviate the stress, which can then alleviate psoriasis—don’t forget to also tackle the psoriasis head-on. A recent article in Everyday Health suggests documenting stress-related flareups. “You can’t squash the psoriasis-stress connection until you know all the factors that are aggravating you. Keeping a journal can help you identify your triggers, some of which may have nothing to do with your psoriasis, like being stuck in traffic morning and night.” When on the rise, stress and psoriasis can rapidly build on one another, but when managed in unison they can be alleviated together just as effectively—keeping a psoriasis journal can be a very important management tool.

There are no quick fixes when it comes to stress and psoriasis, but the consistent effort goes a long way. Mind your triggers, take care of yourself mentally, emotionally and physically, and never be afraid to seek help from a professional with any questions or concerns along the way.