Stress Induced Psoriasis

Last updated: July 2020

A common myth is that psoriasis is “just” a skin disease. This is far from the truth.

Psoriasis is a chronic condition that occurs because of a dysfunction in the immune system. This dysfunction of the immune system is sometimes called an immune-mediated or autoimmune condition.

This means that psoriasis is a condition that occurs within the body, but shows up on the skin. This also explains why psoriasis can also cause inflammation of the joints and even the heart.

Stress and psoriasis

Stress and psoriasis seem to go together. Stress not only has been shown to cause psoriasis symptoms to worsen but when psoriasis symptoms are present, their appearance also leads to psychological stress in the person with the condition. This vicious cycle of stress, inflammation, and symptoms leads to chronic disease.

Let’s explore how stress and psoriasis are related and what you can do about it.

Inflammation and psoriasis

When your body detects anything that does not belong, it sends cells and chemicals to get rid of whatever that substance is. These cells and chemicals launch an attack in an effort to destroy the substance. This process is known as inflammation.

Inflammation is a normal process and, without it, you would never recover from even the most minor of injuries or illnesses. Under normal circumstances, inflammation is short-term--once the foreign substance is destroyed, the body’s attack on it is done.

However, in autoimmune disorders like psoriasis, the body senses a foreign invader that doesn’t exist. The body continues to attack itself and does not turn off the signal to stop the inflammation.

The stress and psoriasis connection

Stress is a state of threatened balance brought on by a psychological, environmental, or physiological stressor. Although there have been major advances in medicine in recent years, the stress level as a whole has continued to increase.

The body senses stress by activating various body systems that release chemicals and hormones. These hormones, as mentioned earlier, cause inflammation—and the cycle of stress, inflammation, and psoriasis symptoms continue.

When psoriasis symptoms cause stress

Skin symptoms of psoriasis can be painful with itchy patches of skin rashes that can burn or be irritating.

Beyond the physical discomfort, psoriasis can be emotionally painful. Psoriatic rash appearance can make you feel less confident or scared to face the world.

This emotional stress of psoriasis can start and worsen the stress-inflammation response, making symptoms worse.

Stress reduction and psoriasis

Because psoriasis is so closely linked to stress and inflammation, reducing stress may help you reduce your symptoms of psoriasis.

  • Meditation: Clearing your mind and taking time for yourself will help to clear your thoughts and reduce anxiety and stress.
  • Exercise: There are many benefits to exercise and reducing stress. Exercise releases endorphins, which improve your mood and energy. Exercise also helps to regulate your sleep and reduces your anxiety.
  • Eat healthy: Eating foods rich in nutrients naturally reduce inflammation and your body’s stress response. Be mindful of how food may trigger your psoriasis symptoms.

Talk to your doctor: As always, keep an open conversation with your doctor about your current stress levels. Your doctor may have ideas you have not considered and working as a team is always best when you have psoriasis.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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