If you type “Causes of Psoriasis” on the Google search box and click the “enter” tab, almost every search result would mention stress as one of the major reasons for psoriasis development as well as psoriasis persistence.
According to The National Psoriasis Foundation, stress is a bigger culprit for women than men.
Almost all of us have experienced that the stressful days would always make our psoriasis worse. Either it is a job stress or academic stress or any personal relationship related stress, your skin would show his reaction every time. Let us try to understand the relation between psoriasis and stress.
What is Stress
In simpler terms, stress is an unpleasant body response to various events occurring in your life. It is a general human tendency to resist any sort of change in our lives. So, we feel stressed everytime when we are forced to adapt as per the undesirable changes happening in your life (and surrounding environment).
Some common stress generating events are:
- Better performance pressure in your job
- Better performance pressure in academics
- Any health disorder
- Any sudden life threatening experience
- Lack of harmony in relationship with family members and close relatives
- Job interviews
It is just a small list and there are numerous other daily life situations which can make you feel stressed. All these events force your body to change its chemistry- consuming extra energy and nutrients. If you would remain in such a stressful condition for a longer time, then eventually your body metabolism would suffer to affect the body immunity.
In today’s modern lifestyle where we are constantly running in an emergency mode to earn more and more physical sources of enjoyment, stress is quite a common thing, ultimately making our body and mind to pay the price later on.
Stress and health problems
Have you ever thought that why suddenly at the time of exams, some students would fall ill? It seems a case of stress affecting the body immunity. Too much stress can decrease the production of T cells and other antibodies, and hence, affects your immunity. T cells are a type of white blood cells that are essential for body immunity.
When stress becomes a regular factor in your life affecting your physical and mental health in a negative manner, then over an extended period of time you might pay the price with a major physical and/or mental disorder.
Various health disorders related to stress are:
- Frequent illness
- Joint pain and inflammation
- Autoimmune disorders
- Frequent fatigue
- Difficulty in doing mental tasks
- Difficulty in dealing with emotions
Psoriasis and Stress
Stress causes hormonal imbalance (by disrupting the hormones output), nutritional deficiencies and digestion related problems. It results in various autoimmune diseases- inflammation and allergies.
Psoriasis is also an autoimmune disorder accompanied by inflammation and food allergic reaction. Hence, stress plays a role in psoriasis.
- Stress causes inflammation
Inflammation is the body’s response to stress. Your body immunity defends against various external threats like injuries and infections by sending out chemicals which cause inflammation. In psoriasis, being an autoimmune disease, the immune system overreacts and sends too many chemicals and hence increased inflammation. Stress results in increased inflammation and worsening of psoriasis.
- Stress disturbs your diet schedule
Under the attack of stress, your daily meal schedule disturbs and there are high chances that:
⇒ either you will skip meals
⇒ or you will overeat
⇒ or you will not take your meals in a relaxed manner
Either skipping meals or taking your meals hurriedly would hamper the digestion process making you susceptible to various digestive issues like indigestion, constipation, acid reflux and other gastric problems. If these issues become chronic, then the level of toxins in your body would go beyond the capabilities of eliminatory organs like liver and would trigger (even develop also) psoriasis symptoms.
- Stress causes bad food habits
Have you ever noticed that under the attack of stress, you develop an increased urge for consuming junk foods. People under depression would either eat a lot of unhealthy foods like junk foods, ice creams and bakeries to shift their attention from the problem.
Suppose you are on a restricted diet for psoriasis healing, and suddenly under a fierce stress attack, you end up consuming 4 drinks of alcohol along with soda will a full large piece of burger to pacify the stress. Also, you are smoking in between. Believe me, this is one of the worst food combination that would definitely trigger your psoriasis and eventually make you more stressed.
So why would you do it?
Stress causes overeating. Also, it is scientifically proven that stress increases the urge for sugar. Hence, we consume instant ready to eat unhealthy foods containing artificial sugar and/or refined white flour to pacify the stress attack. This sort of food craving will definitely worsen your psoriasis for obvious reasons.
- Stress increases dependency on smoking and alcohol consumption.
Smoking is a bigger culprit for psoriasis than alcohol. But, reducing the consumption of alcohol is also recommended. If you are trying to quit or cut down on these addictions, then stress would pose a hindrance to this process.
Read more: Psoriasis and Alcohol
- Stress can cause insomnia (sleeplessness)
We all would agree that lack of proper sleep (rest) worsens our psoriasis.
- Stress makes you acidic.
Continuous stress in your life would disturb the internal acid-alkaline balance of the body and makes you acidic. Increased acidity means increased level of body toxins.
Read more: Impact of body pH on Psoriasis
- Stressful life further impairs your body immunity
Chronic stress destroys your body’s defense system to lower your body immunity and make you susceptible to attack by foreign matters like viruses and germs. Hence, you can easily get attacked by various diseases.
The vicious cycle of Psoriasis and Stress
Stress triggers psoriasis and can cause psoriasis flare ups. This is not the complete story. This is barely the half part. The remaining half part is- In public life, psoriasis itself is a stressful condition to deal with. Dealing with people’s strange looks on your psoriasis patches; responding to their questions related to these patches and sometimes, their discriminating behavior because of psoriasis is a heavily stressed condition to deal with.
When we complete the whole story, it becomes a vicious cycle of stress and psoriasis and we found ourselves entrapped in it without any exit gate (as explained in the below image)
How to relieve the stress
If we can become more open about our problem and stop denying it, then stress level can reduce automatically. It is always better to accept the problem and then making sincere efforts to get out of it, rather than just making fake excuses to deny the problem. These days, there is a lot of awareness and attraction towards stress relieving techniques like yoga, meditation, the art of living, relaxation techniques, massage therapies and counselling. And,of course, no list of stress busters can be complete without mentioning physical exercise (workout).
Read more: Exercise helps in Psoriasis healing
A short list of stress busters can be:
- Be open about your skin condition and stop denying it.
- Talk to your family members and close friends about the matter.
- Practice Yoga and meditation.
- Regular exercise (physical workout) can be a game changer. It is one of the best stress buster.
- Other popular relaxation techniques are massage therapies, dance classes, outdoor games.
Read more: Yoga for Psoriasis
Stress is an obvious culprit for psoriasis for so many reasons- disturbed hormonal output, nutritional deficiency, disturbed food habits and sleeplessness. To make it worse, psoriasis itself is a highly stressful condition due to people’s negative reactions and lack of self esteem.
Healing practices like Yoga, meditation and regular exercise can help a lot in relieving psoriasis and stress both. Professional counselling can also be considered if required.