Can Stress Cause Psoriasis? [Case Study]
If you ever asked yourself can stress cause psoriasis, then this post is likely to answer that question once and for all.
Some time ago I sent a survey out to the readers of Smart Psoriasis Diet to get a general understanding of how a people with psoriasis lives are affected and what results they have seen when it comes to diet choices, vitamin D3 levels and stress management.
The one glaring statistic that stood out confirmed the connection between psoriasis and stress. Does our weakened immune system struggle under stressful situations?
I have always known this was my key psoriasis trigger but to see it backed up by a huge majority of fellow psoriasis sufferers, makes all the trials and experiments I have undertaken worthwhile.
Here are the results of the survey…
Psoriasis and Stress Correlation – What The Survey Said
84.38% Agree That Psoriasis Symptoms Gets Worse By Prolonged Stress
As you can see from my survey result above, I asked a straightforward question – Do you notice your psoriasis getting worse going through periods of prolonged stress?
96 psoriasis sufferers took the survey.
65% were female and 35% were male.
I also left a comment section open for people who wanted to provide further information in relation to the question.
I was definitely able to relate to lots of these comments.
Does Stress Cause Psoriasis Survey Respondent Comments
Here are some of the comments from the survey takers. I thank each and every one of you for taking the time to respond to my questions.
“I flared severely when I was married and having problems…asked the now ex if he wanted a divorce and he said no…I like the way things are. I was doing most of the work, etc.”
“My job is rather stressful, so there are time when the only contributing factor is stress”
“Normally work related, but was really bad when we had a family illness”
“Especially with poor sleep”
“The last time when it got worse was a few months ago when I was working on my thesis”
“At the moment things are very stressful at work and as a result, my diet is not as strict as it should be nor am I doing the yoga I know works. Consequently, my legs are worse than they have been for a while.”
“Work stress, personal stress, inactive (not exercising) when I get a cold or flu PMS time”
“I have an ongoing stressful situation within my family, so when I dwell on it my skin gets much worse”
“Definitely during a depressive period”
“I believe stress to be a significant factor”
“I’m going through menopause it’s bad also when my period is due”
“It has also flared up during my last pregnancy”
“I am convinced there is a connection. I almost feel a connection from my liver to my patches :(“
“The stress has increased because of my flare-ups!”
“Stress triggers it but when eating correctly and moisturiser it gets better again faster then previously.”
“Recently there was a restructure of the team at the office, the stress of not knowing if I would still have a job made it worse for those 4 months waiting to know.”
“Isn’t everyone always stressed? ???? Anyhow, I notice it takes a while sometimes. So.etimes the flare-up comes sometime after the stressful event. For example, I was fired from my job of 20 years, 2 months ago and had a hysterectomy 6 weeks ago. But my flare up is just now happening…not during the initial stress”
“Especially in very high emotive situation”
“I had an emotional shock”
The Beating Psoriasis Trifecta
I will not bore my readers more by explaining the exact reasoning for how I came up with the beating psoriasis trifecta theory but if you want to read more about it, please download my free Smart Psoriasis Diet Plan eBook. It explains exactly how I control my psoriasis with diet, supplements and small lifestyle changes.
The summary of the Beating Psoriasis Trifecta is that your psoriasis will never be fully cleared unless you have the following three areas in balance:
- Vitamin d3 Levels
- Healthy Diet
- Low-Stress Levels
If you have two of the three areas in check, you will see less severe psoriasis flare-ups but you will never see a full elimination of your psoriasis. If you get all three in check, you will see a full elimination of your psoriasis (or close to it).
Now, in my opinion, everyone also has their own specific psoriasis trigger(s) which determines which one of the above areas is the most relevant to your psoriasis condition.
For some, it could simply be a deficiency in Vitamin D3 which is easily rectified.
For others, it could be the over-consumption of a particular food or drink such as gluten, certain alcoholic beverages, excess sugar or even nightshades.
And for other people, the main trigger is a prolonged period of stress. The funny thing about how stress can cause a flare-up is that sometimes, the flare up happens after the stressful period is over!
I equate this to the famous story of the boiling frog.
If a frog was thrown into a pot of boiling water, it would instantly jump out and live.
However, if the frog was placed into a pot of tepid water that was gradually increased in temperature, it would not notice the fact that it was being boiled alive!
This is the same with a prolonged stressful situation.
By the time you are aware of the situation, you are too late and the damage has been done, i.e a huge flare-up of your psoriasis has been triggered.
There are then knock-on effects of stressful situations:
- You may know you are stressed but it is difficult to distance yourself from the stressful situation (e.g. money, relationship or work-related issues) and therefore you have zero chance of reducing/eliminating your psoriasis
- Because of your stress levels, you try to “self-medicate” with alcohol, drugs or junk food which of course makes the flare up even worse
Both these situations make you feel trapped and in a vicious circle of negativity causing a never-ending episode of an aggressive psoriasis outbreak.
How To Get Out Of A Stressful Situation To Get Your Psoriasis Under Control
There are a number of ways to get your stress under control or to even realise what the stressor is so that you can then make the changes necessary to end the stress cycle.
There are plenty of studies which shows that regular exercise can help with depression (Aerobic exercises in particular, including jogging, swimming, cycling, walking, gardening, and dancing, have been proved to reduce anxiety and depression).
Fast walking, jogging or running is the cheapest way to stay fit, help clarify your thoughts and an added bonus of helping you sleep better!
For psoriatic arthritis sufferers, a less intense form of exercise is required.
Talk With A Professional Therapist
Did you know that the biggest mistake I ever made when it came to my psoriasis condition was bottling up all the emotions and depression that came with it and never telling anyone?
For 16 years, I put a brave face out to the world but internally I was in a seriously dark place.
The first time in my life where I was covered in psoriasis from head to toe was the worst period of my life. My mental health and physical appearance were in a dreadful state.
I did not understand at that time what my psoriasis triggers were and all I thought about was how I could cope living with psoriasis for the rest of my life. I would easily have traded losing a limb to be rid of my psoriasis back then.
I was at my wit’s end and had turned myself to acupuncture and herbalists as conventional medicine wasn’t working. The acupuncturist I found cleared my psoriasis in 6 weeks but now I fully understand why.
And it wasn’t the acupuncture!
He was the first person to talk to me about my condition from a mental viewpoint. He took the time during our 1-hour sessions to listen to how much it was affecting me, why I was feeling stressed and to try and explore the reasons why these were affecting me so much.
He was the first medical practitioner to actually listen to me and not talk down to me.
Since moving to other countries I have tried two other acupuncturists, and while I never got the same results, I did feel super relaxed after each visit so still happy to recommend this as a treatment.
I did not think these new acupuncturists were able to understand and empathize with my delicate mental state.
When a qualified practitioner or therapist listens to you carefully, they are trained to interpret our words to fully understand what we mean and then offer sensible advice.
These days, you do not even have to leave your house to find a qualified therapist.
Respected services like MyTherapist.com offer professional counselling by licensed therapists where you can schedule a time to talk to a therapist by phone, video, or online messaging.
I just wish these online services were available when I was younger as it took away the stumbling block of trying to find a suitable therapist that was in travelling distance from my home.
As I come from a rural and isolated background, there were literally no options available!
When you use MyTherapist.com, it first asks you to fill out a short multiple choice questionnaire. It then displays the top 10 available therapists based on your answers.
You then can read their bio along with verified reviews from previous patients.
Once you choose your therapist, you are then asked one final questions which is “Please specify (in a few sentences) why you are considering counselling and which issues you would like to address.”
The benefits of using this service are
- Choose a counselling schedule that suits you
- No travelling expenses
- up to 75% cheaper than conventional counselling
- Choose from over 2000 licensed therapists
- Eligibility for financial aid if you are currently unable to afford a therapist
If you are struggling with the mental side of psoriasis, then I would advise to check out MyTherapist.com now.
Talk About With Someone Who’s Opinion You Trust
If for whatever reason you cannot find a good medical practitioner or therapist or simply cannot afford it, then my advice is to open up and discuss how you are feeling with someone whose opinion you trust, be it a family member or friend.
Just by getting your negative thoughts off your chest will help considerably. Just beware that everyone has their own self-interests so be wary of any strange advice from family and friends!
Now that you know that stress is one of the leading contributors to a flare up or disimprovement of your psoriasis, it is time to concentrate on getting your stress to a lower level. It is not easy but at least you can get better at identifying stressors and have processes in place to help you overcome those difficult periods in an efficient and timely way.
If you too notice that stress makes your psoriasis worse, please leave a comment below and tell us more…