Coping with the Emotions of Psoriasis

Patient Expert

Having psoriasis is stressful. It’s uncomfortable, painful and itchy. It’s frustrating that there is not a cure and no explanation for why and when it appears. It costs time and money to see the doctor and fill a prescription.  It’s discouraging when trying to pinpoint and understand what triggers a flare. Then, there are the embarrassing red, flaky spots and the rude people staring at them. This list could go on and on, and just reading it is stressing me out -- and stress is an incredibly common trigger for psoriasis flares.

When managing psoriasis, it can be beneficial to approach your treatment plan holistically, which includes both body and mind.  It is just as, or more so, important to treat the emotional side of psoriasis, as it is to treat your skin.** Letting Others InHaving a support network is extremely important in managing the emotional side of psoriasis. Open up to a close friend or family member to talk about how you’re feeling and avoid keeping it bottled up -- which could lead to depression. You may also want to consider joining an online support group** or a peer mentorship program. Here, you can talk to other people with psoriasis who understand some of what you’re feeling and going through.** The online support groups are a secure place for venting, asking questions, exchanging information and just knowing you’re not alone.Most people simply do not know what psoriasis is. The strongest kind of fear is the fear of the unknown and sometimes that fear manifests itself into rude stares causing you to feel self-conscious or embarrassed. Explaining psoriasis to family and friends, and even co-workers and assuring them that it is not contagious will go a long way with eliminating the looks and in helping you to feel more comfortable around them.  With strangers, a simple “it's just psoriasis,” or ignoring them can be the smoothest course of action. I purposely like to include the word “just,” because it easily diminishes the importance of the statement.**** Shifting Focus**

Because there are so many unknowns, such as why psoriasis has appeared, or whether or not a treatment will work, living with psoriasis can make you feel helpless and resentful. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, psoriasis can cause considerable emotional distress for people, including low self-esteem and an increased chance of mood disorders like depression.

Taking control of your psoriasis can make you feel empowered and hopeful. Share in choosing your treatment plan: Work with your doctor to find the best course of action for your psoriasis diagnosis that fits with your life. Adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes healthy eating and exercise. Try to pinpoint your flare triggers, by paying attention to the differences in your routine and mentality when you flare; starting by paying attention to certain foods, skin damage, weather, stressful situations, or sickness.

_"It is just as, or more so, important to treat the emotional side of psoriasis, as it is to treat your skin." _

But sometimes, too much focus on one thing can be adverse. Though taking care of your psoriasis is critical, you should have a balanced mind. Take care of your mental health by finding an outlet for your energy. I use a combination of meditation, writing and exercise for balance depending on what my mind needs.  There are great apps/online tools to guide and teach you to meditation, or you can take a few minutes to re-focus and do it on your own. Exercise will not only benefit your mind, but you will get physical benefits that will help combat psoriasis (before starting a new exercise program, talk to your healthcare provider). Writing may not be something that you do regularly, but I find that jotting down my thoughts and feelings helps clear and focus my mind.** It doesn’t mean that you have to post and share everything; it can just help to get it out.**