PSORIASIS AND COMORBIDITIES – Psychological and Psychiatric Disorders – PART 3

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The last in our 3 part series addressing psychological and psychiatric disorders associated with psoriasis.

   Psychological and Psychiatric Disorders –

   Sleep Disorders

   Somatoform Disorders

   Substance dependence of abuse

1, 2, 3

Sleep Disorders

It is thought that psoriasis has a direct effect on the development of sleep disorders due to the cutaneous (skin) symptoms of the condition. The skin is the primary circadian mediator of core body temperature (CBT), and a decrease in CBT in the late evening is an important mechanism for sleep initiation. Psoriasis has been associated with problems with thermoregulation and researchers have indicated that the reduced ability to dissipate heat is one factor in the inability to initiate sleep. Pruritus (itch) is another contributor to sleep disturbance and it is also regulated by circadian mechanisms. The threshold for pruritus is lowered in the evening due to complex circadian-mediated factors such as lower cortisol levels, decreased epidermal barrier function, and increased distal-to-proximal (distant limbs-to-body centre) gradient in skin temperature. Thus pruritus in psoriasis typically manifests or exacerbates mainly in the evening and worsens at night. 4,5,6

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The inflammatory biological mechanism(s) that lead to initiation and exacerbation of psoriasis, also contribute to the development of systemic diseases e.g. depressive disease, hypertension (blood pressure), adverse cardiac events, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity. All of these conditions are known to indirectly give rise to sleep-disordered breathing. The heightened pro-inflammatory state in conditions such as obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (OSAS) and insomnia could in turn lead to exacerbations of psoriasis.4,5,6

A systematic review of the literature on the relationship between psoriasis, PsA, and formal sleep disorders identified an increased prevalence of OSAS with a 36-81% prevalence in psoriasis versus 2% for women and 4% for men in the general population.4,5  In one study researchers found that some patients with chronic psoriasis and concurrent OSAS showed improvement of their psoriatic lesions while on nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP).6 OSAS leads to severe physical and, possibly, psychological stress to the body, e.g., by hypoxemia (low blood oxygen levels), increased blood pressure, tachycardia (fast or irregular heart rate), sleep fragmentation, reduction of deep sleep, reduction of REM sleep, hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness), and insomnia. It is known that OSAS also dysregulates the function of the patient’s autonomic nervous system and hormone system. It is felt that this might alter the homeostasis of the immune neuroendocrine network in the skin and may cause the initiation of psoriasis in the genetically predisposed individuals.4,5,6

Somatoform Disorders – psychosomatic symptoms

Somatization is the manifestation of psychological distress by the presentation of bodily symptoms such as feeling nausea due to anxiety, stress headaches, falling ill after a trauma and inability to cope with a disease. 

Patients with psoriasis exhibit higher scores of hypochondriasis, hysteria, and somatization. As previously exposed hypochondriasis and hysteria may be connected with specific personality traits of patients with psoriasis of late-onset. Psychosomatic factors, namely stressful life events, lack of social support, and attachment insecurity, may explain why patients with psoriasis have greater scores of somatization. Moreover, the presence of depression in psoriasis may modulate itch perception and then exacerbate symptoms of pruritus.7 (Refer to Part 1 of this series) A systematic review of the psychosocial burden of psoriasis found that social stigmatization, high stress levels, physical limitations, depression, employment problems and other psychosocial co-morbidities experienced by patients with psoriasis are not always proportional to, or predicted by, other measurements of disease severity such as body surface area involvement or plaque severity. Some psoriasis patients had, even when their lesions were small and mild, levels of stress and loss of confidence that was not in keeping with the severity of their condition – which leads to the conclusion that they had maladaptive coping mechanisms in play e.g. self blame, blaming parents, social phobia, avoidance behaviours, substance and alcohol abuse etc. 9

Substance – Dependence of Abuse

In our previous blog Psoriasis and Alcohol (ethanol), we stated that patients with psoriasis experience considerable emotional distress, depression and social isolation due to the visibility of skin lesions, especially when the lesions are widespread and severe. Whilst it would be demeaning to state that all psoriasis patients with mild to severe psoriasis suffer from alcoholism, it has been confirmed in several Quality of Life studies that the percentage of psoriasis patients who admit to having a drinking problem may be as high as 32%. Research indicates that men are more likely to use alcohol excessively as a coping mechanism with the psychosocial burden of psoriasis. Consequently they are at a higher risk of developing depression – with the alcohol misuse and psoriasis as underlying causes. 4 Another study indicated that for women, excessive alcohol intake above a certain threshold (?30.0 g/d), may be associated with a significantly increased risk of Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA).5

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Alcohol is known to inhibit inflammation and immune responses; however acute and chronic alcohol consumption have opposite effects on inflammatory cell activation. Results indicate that acute alcohol exposure is inhibitory, whereas chronic alcohol exposure leads to an increase in inflammatory cell responses.6

Research has confirmed that alcoholics are more susceptible to infections, as streptococcal infections are trigger factors for psoriasis, this increased susceptibility may be involved in the onset and progress of the disease. It is also known that measurable quantities of ingested ethanol are secreted through human skin. Transdermal ethanol derives from two processes: active secretion by eccrine glands, primarily sweat glands, and passive diffusion through the lipid layers of the skin. Ethanol disrupts the dermal barrier enhancing skin permeability for numerous chemicals and increases the solubility of penetrating chemical compounds.6

Research into the the use of illicit drugs and psoriasis is extremely limited. Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), also called Ecstasy, has been reported to initiate Guttate Psoriasis. The researchers theorized that “While MDMA [the main ingredient in ecstasy] is taken for its psychomimetic effect, pharmacologically it increases the level of noradrenaline, serotonin and dopamine by inhibiting the reuptake mechanism. It is known that Patients with psoriasis already have increased levels of noradrenaline.”7 There are also anecdotal stories on support websites where psoriasis sufferers have spoken about the exacerbation of their psoriasis with the use of “meth” (Methamphetamine, Ice). Within our clinic we have had several patients whose psoriasis was initiated and exacerbated by the use of cannabis (street not medicinal), once they ceased the use of cannabis their psoriasis resolved. As long as they did not use cannabis they remained free of any psoriatic lesions.

REFERENCES

  • Susskind W. and McGuire R.J.: The Emotional Factor in Psoriasis; Scot. med, J., 1959,4:503
  • Kessler R. C. et al.; Epidemiology of Anxiety Disorders; M.B. Stein and T. Steckler (eds.), Behavioral Neurobiology of Anxiety and Its Treatment, Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences 2, DOI 10.1007/7854_2009_9, # Springer?Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009, published online 3 September 2009
  • Nasreen S. et al.; Frequency and Magnitude of Anxiety and Depression in Patients with Psoriasis Vulgaris; Journal of the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan 2008, Vol. 18 (7): 397-400
  • Brenaut E. et al.; Alcohol consumption and psoriasis: a systematic literature review. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venerol. 2013 Aug;27 Suppl 3:30-5. doi: 10.1111/jdv.12164.
  • Shaowei Wu et al.; Alcohol Intake and Risk of Incident Psoriatic Arthritis in Women; J Rheumatol. 2015 May ; 42(5): 835–840. doi:10.3899/jrheum.140808.
  • Farkas A, Kemény L.; Psoriasis and alcohol: is cutaneous ethanol one of the missing links?; • British Journal of Dermatology 2010 162, pp711–716
  • Tan B., Foley P.; Guttate psoriasis following Ecstasy ingestion; Australasian Journal of Dermatology45(3):167-9 September 2004?

Simple Mental/Mind Relaxation Techniques Part 2

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Are you having trouble controlling your thoughts and finding it difficult to let yourself float in the Full Body Scan Meditation or the Releasing Troubles and Worries Exercise?

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WELL DON’T WORRY!!!!!!!

Here is a “Thought-Stopping” Exercise that can be used during either the Full Body Scan Meditation or the Releasing Troubles and Worries Exercise or when trying to get to sleep.

In thought-stopping, you would do this exercise FIRST. So lie on a yoga bed for the exercises or in bed to get to sleep.

Think about something that you know is worrying you and will keep you awake …… something troubling you that you will know your mind will churn over and make it difficult to relax or go to sleep.  Force your mind to concentrate on that issue or person e.g. the project at work is in trouble and you know your boss is going to get angry at you and the team. Turn this over in your mind again and again and then suddenly in your mind “Shout Out” STOP!!!!!!. Breath easily and try to relax …… if you feel the issue creeping back into your mind ….. repeat the STOP exercise again and again until your mind releases the thought.

This STOP exercise basically is forcing your brain to recognize when to stop thinking about something …. It abruptly interrupts the thought process and makes the brain shift its focus … this is where the relaxation technique, that you have chosen should now be used.

A number of sites on the internet offer some wonderful guided meditations, and alternative Relaxation Techniques. Below we have listed some of the techniques and their links:-

SAFE HAVEN” – VISUALIZATION – Page 19 http://www.mirecc.va.gov/visn16/docs/Franklin_Relaxation_Therapist_Manual.pdf

QUICK RELAXATION STRATEGIES

https://www.k-state.edu/paccats/Contents/Stress/Quick%20Relaxation%20

Strategies.pdf

 

ABC GUIDED AUDIO MEDITATIONS

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/lifematters/features/meditation-toolkit/audio-practice/4326674

 

Also read our blog “Stress, Anxiety, Depression and Psoriasis, Stressed about Psoriasis – Identify Your Stressors and Yours Stress Responses, Simple Physical Relaxation Techniques for Psoriasis Patients, Simple Mental/Mind Relaxation Techniques Part 1 – For Psoriasis Patients, Simple Mental/Mind Relaxation

 

REFERENCES

  1. National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (NCP); Manage Stress Workbook; http://www.prevention.va.gov/mpt/2013/docs/managestressworkbook_dec2013.pdf
  2. Relaxation Techniques for Health: What You Need To Know; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; https://nccih.nih.gov/sites/nccam.nih.gov/files/Get_The_Facts_Relaxation_Techniques_02-06-2015.pdf
  3. Progressive Muscle Relaxation; http://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/docs/ACF3944.pdf
  4. Manzoni G.M. et al.; Relaxation training for anxiety: a ten-years systematic review with meta-analysis ; BMC Psychiatry 2008, 8:41 doi:10.1186/1471-244X-8-41
  5. Franklin C.L. et al.: Relaxation Enhancement Therapist Manual; http://www.mirecc.va.gov/visn16/docs/Franklin_Relaxation_Therapist_Manual.pdf

Simple Mental/Mind Relaxation Techniques Part 1

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As we indicated in the Simple Physical Relaxation Techniques blog, it is important that you take control and find some relaxation techniques that best assist you to relax and to control your stress levels and increase your emotional resilience. Once you have mastered the 4 exercises that you found or will find in our Physical Relaxation Techniques blog it is time to combine any one of these with some simple Mental/Mind Relaxation Exercises and find the one that works for you:-

RELEASING YOUR TROUBLES AND WORRIES

 Create a Picture in Your Mind

Think of a view or a place or an object that you find simple, quiet and inspiring or use one of the following.

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Study every minute detail in your mind.

If you are sitting on the sand on the beach, feel the aetting sun warming your face, feel the breeze on your skin, smell the ocean air, taste the salty tang on the breeze, hear the waves washing right up to you and as you hear each and every wave, release all of your stress and throw it onto the waves to wash out into the ocean …… take a bad feeling and do the same with this feeling and just release it to the waves, repeat with a troubled thought, or a person who riles you or who has upset you … do it with everything that has angered, troubled, annoyed, worried or upset you until you are totally relaxed and free from all troubles and worries.

When using the sunset …. Do the same as you imaging the colour changing and fading until you are free from all troubles and worries and looking at a beautiful starry night.

When using the rainbow … do the same as you climb higher onto the rainbow ……. with each step leave another thing behind you. Climb right to the top of the rainbow and view the world free from all troubles and worries and as you begin to make your way down the rainbow know that you remain free from all of you troubles and worries as you step into a field of beautiful flowers and lush grass.

When using the garden …. Smell the flowers, hear the bees, watch the sun glint on dragon fly wings, and as you go through the gate leave all of your troubles behind you and imagine yourself walking along a golden path into beautiful warm, fern forest. Wind the path back to the garden but notice that when you walk back into the garden your troubles and worries have all gone and you a free to enjoy the garden with a feeling of peace and serenity.

RELEASING PAIN AND DISCOMFORT

Body Scan Meditation

To practice the Body Scan Meditation, get into a comfortable position, by lying on a yoga mat on the floor or on a bed. You can use a pillow under your head. You can also sit in a chair on in the Yoga position. Use the Controlled Breathing or the Progressive Relaxation exercise from our Simple Physical Relaxation Technique blog and gently bring your awareness to the present.

1. Concentrate on a specific body part, e.g. your right arm. As you breathe deeply, scan that part of your body for sensations – heat, pain or burning. Notice the sensations but try not to get lost in thought and feel the heat, pain or burning. Repeat in your mind – “ALL HEAT, PAIN, or BURNING IS GONE”…………. Repeat three times

Gradually let your focus move to different body parts—each leg, your hips, stomach, chest, hands, arms, and head. And do the same.

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2. Practice the Body Scan Meditation and do not worry if you become aware of your mind’s tendency to drift to other thoughts. When you notice this happening, just let the thought go and gently bring your attention back to your body. If you have any pain or discomfort, just notice it, accept it, and release it using the mantra and continue scanning

The more you do this exercise the greater control you will achieve over your pain or discomfort.

Also read our blog “Stress, Anxiety, Depression and Psoriasis, Stressed about Psoriasis – Identify Your Stressors and Yours Stress Responses, Simple Physical Relaxation Techniques for Psoriasis Patients, Simple Mental/Mind Relaxation Techniques Part 2 – For Psoriasis Patients, Simple Mental/Mind Relaxation

 

 

REFERENCES

  •  National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (NCP); Manage Stress Workbook; http://www.prevention.va.gov/mpt/2013/docs/managestressworkbook_dec2013.pdf
  • Relaxation Techniques for Health: What You Need To Know; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; https://nccih.nih.gov/sites/nccam.nih.gov/files/Get_The_Facts_Relaxation_Techniques_02-06-2015.pdf
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation; http://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/docs/ACF3944.pdf
  • Manzoni G.M. et al.; Relaxation training for anxiety: a ten-years systematic review with meta-analysis ; BMC Psychiatry 2008, 8:41 doi:10.1186/1471-244X-8-41
  • Franklin C.L. et al.: Relaxation Enhancement Therapist Manual; http://www.mirecc.va.gov/visn16/docs/Franklin_Relaxation_Therapist_Manual.pdf

Stressed about Your Skin Condition – Identify Your Stressors and Your Stress Responses

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Whether you suffer from Psoriasis, Eczema / Dermatitis etc. stress is a recognized trigger that initiates and exacerbates fale ups. Being able to recognize what your Stress Triggers (Stressors) may assist you in modifying your responses and be part of the learning curve in managing your condition.

Identifying your Stressors

Use the list below to identify your stressors. For each item on the list, note whether or not it is important to you and whether or not you have control over it.

Changing Jobs/Promotion      Family Conflicts                      General Health   

Lack of Confidence                  Isolation                                     Money Worries

Pain/Fatigue                              Planning for Retirement         Public Speaking

Traffic to/from Work               Travel/Vacation/Holidays       Upcoming Wedding

Social Events                           World Events: War, Natural Disasters, Economy

Other:_______________        Other:_______________

 

 IMPORTANTNOT IMPORTANT
 

 

 

You are in Control

 

 

 

    
 

 

 

You do not have Control

 

 

 

  

 

 How Does Your Body Respond to Your Stressor?

Take note of what your body is telling you. Your body may constantly show a set pattern of response to stress and, as such, if you become aware of these responses you can then take the next step in trying to control these responses. These are classified as the following:

1) Physical

2) Behavioral

3) Emotional

4) Cognitive and

5) Spiritual

 

Physical symptoms include:- Shallow or rapid breathing, rapid heat beat, headaches, nausea or indigestion, hot flushes or sweaty palms, back pain, tight shoulders and/or neck or other unusual random aches and pains, insomnia and/or excessive fatigue, Psoriasis flare up.

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Behavioral symptoms include:- Excessive smoking, abuse of alcohol and/or compulsive eating.  Compulsive chewing of gum or inner cheek or grinding one’s teeth, especially at night. Aggressiveness, bossiness and/or being over critical of others;

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Emotional symptoms include:- Excessive impulse to laugh or cry, unhappiness for no reason and being easily upset. General boredom or nervousness and edginess. Extreme loneliness and/or overwhelming feelings of being powerless to change things. Over reacting and/or intense anger.

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Cognitive symptoms include:- Mental confusion/concentration – trouble thinking clearly or being able to do simple mental tasks e.g. adding numbers up or simply being able to read a book, forgetfulness, memory loss and loss of sense of humor.

Spiritual symptoms might include:- Loss of faith – doubt, martyrdom and just a general loss of direction in one’s life, being vulnerable to cult groups.

 

Identify Your Stressor Responses

When you know how your body responds to stressors, you can focus your attention on finding the best stress management technique for each one. Tick the box corresponding to your Body Responses as to when you feel stressed and identify what the stressor was.

SYMPTOMSSTRESSORSYMPTOMSSTRESSOR
Chest Pain

 

 Fatigue 
Chest Tightness

 

 Lack of Energy 
Heart Palpitations

 

 Difficulty Sleeping 
Headache/Migraines

 

 Depression/Anxiety 
Neck & Shoulder Pain

 

 Sadness 
Teeth Grinding

 

 Crying 
Backache

 

 Irritability/Anger 
Muscle Crams/Spasms

 

 Frustration 
General Muscle Tension Forgetfulness

 

 
Pain

 

 Worrying 
Upset Stomach/Nausea

 

 Restlessness 
Diarrhea / Constipation

 

 Lack of Motivation 
Increased Smoking

 

 Blaming Others 
Increased Alcohol Consumption Loneliness 
Excessive eating for the sake of eating, not when hungry Skin Flare-up (State the Condition) ________________

e.g. psoriasis

 

 

Now Rate the Severity of Your Stress Response

 

0       1        2        3       4        5       6       7        8        9       10

l____l____l____l____l____l____l____l____l____l____l

 

Not                        A little                   Somewhat                Very                        Extremely

troubled                troubled                 troubled                 troubled                    troubled

Date/TimeStress Level

(0-10)

What Did I Do?What Did I Think?
E.G.   9.30pm10Argument with Partner Yelled and stormed outI hated myself, I hated him/her, I hated life, I hated the way I felt
 

 

 

   
 

 

 

   
 

 

 

   
 

 

 

   
 

 

 

   
 

 

 

   
 

 

 

   
 

 

 

   

 

Also read our blog “Stress, Anxiety, Depression and Psoriasis”, Simple Physical Relaxation Techniques for Psoriasis Patients, Simple Mental/Mind Relaxation Techniques Part 1 – For Psoriasis Patients, Simple Mental/Mind Relaxation Techniques Part 2 – For Psoriasis Patients”

 

 

 

References

 

  1. Bamber, Petrina Nicole, “Quality of life for patients with psoriasis : more than skin deep” (2009). Master’s and Doctoral Projects. Paper 272. http://utdr.utoledo.edu/graduate-projects/272
  2. National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (NCP); Manage Stress Workbook; http://www.prevention.va.gov/mpt/2013/docs/managestressworkbook_dec2013.pdf
  3. Franklin C.L. et al.: Relaxation Enhancement Therapist Manual; http://www.mirecc.va.gov/visn16/docs/Franklin_Relaxation_Therapist_Manual.pdf