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.

tiredness-sets-in-1482054-640x480 backache-1620045-639x442

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;

smoker-1457305-639x497 bad-guy-1623961-640x960have-a-drink-1-1510449-640x480

 

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.

crying-1440466-640x480frustrated-1439244-640x480

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

Stress, Anxiety, Depression and Psoriasis

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A rapid heartbeat, headache, stiff neck, backache, rapid breathing, sweating and upset stomach are a few of the everyday physical symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression. There is a growing medical consensus of opinion that many skin diseases are strongly associated with psychological stress and illness. The relationship of stress, anxiety, depression, not to mention feelings of stigma, shame, embarrassment, and low self-esteem all impact upon a person who is suffering from psoriasis. 1, 2

The interplay between stress and multiple biologic systems in our bodies can trigger the onset of psoriasis. For many anxiety or depression is a symptom after the event, especially if the condition is chronic and especially visual and/or painful.

Regardless of how stress is defined, studies conducted show a consistent relationship between stress and psoriasis.  The majority of psoriasis sufferers, themselves, also consider stress to be the main cause for or exacerbation of their psoriasis, ranking it above infections, trauma, medications, diet, or weather.

Studies have defined stress into three general categories:                                                     sorrow-and-worry-1434793 FreeImages

1) Major stressful life events (e.g., employment or financial problems,

    death of a spouse, major personal illness),

2) Psychological or personality difficulties, and

3) Lack of social support.

In one study patients were questioned as to what types of stressful life events that had occurred in the previous 12 months, that could have triggered their skin condition.

Stressful life events were seen in 26% of the psoriasis patients, the most common stressful life event seen was financial loss or problems (8%), death of close family member (4%), sexual problems (4%), family conflict (2%), major personal illness or injury (2%), change in working conditions (2%), failure in examinations (2%), family member unemployed (2%), illness of family member (2%), getting married or engaged (2%) and miscellaneous (2%). 5

 It is important to recognize that psoriasis is a lifelong disease that affects patients not only physically but also socially and emotionally. As seen from the patients’ perspective, the most severe negative effects of their skin condition do not result from physical symptoms alone, but rather from the interaction of their physical symptoms and their mental/emotional state. Researchers have found that the stress of having psoriasis, in itself can initiate or exacerbate depression in depression-prone individuals.

The challenge for sufferers of skin conditions is, with the aim of improving their quality of life, to help themselves to find, together with their practitioner, the best personal treatment plan and then sticking to it. The main challenges in the effective management of skin conditions, comes down to patient adherence to the treatment plan and their emotional resilience.

 

References

  1. Biljan D. et al.: Psoriasis, Mental Disorders and Stress, Coll. Antropol. 33 (2009) 3: 889–892
  2. Buske KIrschbaum Hellhammer et al.,; Endocrine and immune responses to stress in chronic inflammatory skin disorders; 992. 231-240 (2003)
  3. Gerhard Schmid-Ott et al.,; Patient considerations in the management of mental stress in psoriasis; Patient Intelligence 2012:4 41–50; 2012 publisher and licensee Dove Medical Press Ltd.
  4. Malhotra SK, Mehta V. Role of stressful life events in induction or exacerbation of psoriasis and chronic urticaria.; Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2008;74:594-9.
  5. Madhulika A. Gupta. Et al.; A Psychocutaneous Profile of Psoriasis Patients, Who Are Stress Reactors, A Study of 127 Patients; Gen Hosp Psychiatry;11, 166-173, 1989
  6. Jafferany M. Psychodermatology: A Guide to Understanding Common Psychocutaneous Disorders.Primary Care Companion to The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 2007;9(3):203-213.