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How to avoid getting worried sick about your psoriasis

 
Empowering yourself for victory over psoriasis anxiety

 

We want to empower you to live an active and healthy life

Our hearts all ocasionally skip a beat, for example when we are feeling fearful about attending a job interview, making a key client presentation, going on a first date, or speaking up during a parent evening. These are usually transitory moments. Nevertheless, some suffer from such recurrent and intense anxious spells that these totally invade their lives.

 

For people with psoriasis, anxiety is 31% more common1 because they are faced with a chronic disease, and are relentlessly dreading a fresh flare-up and how others will respond to it. Methods for coping with psoriasis-related anxiety will be detailed here to help you lighten your load.

 

 

 [MvdP1]Do not make this a link

 

 

 

 [GA2]Link deleated as Philips offers wearables too

 

 

1. Get ready and start with just five to 10 minutes a day

Don’t fall into the trap of going overboard just because your skin was fine with it by the end of last summer. Start with a short exposure of maximum 10 minutes. Depending on the sensitivity of your skin, you can gradually increase the time by a few minutes each day. 
1. Get ready and start with just five to 10 minutes a day

Don’t fall into the trap of going overboard just because your skin was fine with it by the end of last summer. Start with a short exposure of maximum 10 minutes. Depending on the sensitivity of your skin, you can gradually increase the time by a few minutes each day. 

3. Be smart and keep a record

 

Always note down what time and for how long you were in the sun. Tracking your exposure and keeping aware of it allows you to track your treatment success. This is especially important if you are undergoing psoriasis treatment with UV radiation at the same time. You might have already reached your maximum radiation level of UVA (315-400 nm), UVB (280-315 nm), and UVC (100-280 nm) without realising it. A great way to track UV radiation is by using wearables. From wristband trackers to skin patches, there are a lot of gadgets out there that can help you keep a record. Some of them even monitor your vitamin D levels!

 

 

 

Setting anxiety apart from depression

 

Firstly it is necessary to distinguish anxiety from depression. While there is significant symtom overlap, a key difference between the two is that where depression renders you hopeless, listless, and disinterested, anxiety evokes fear, panic, and torment.

The bond between anxiety and psoriasis

 

Psoriasis sufferers are especially prone to feeling anxious, and those with psoriatic arthritis even more so2, since their condition is so outwardly visible, often creating a barrier to positive contact with strangers. Whatsmore, with no end in sight, they are fearful about how their psoriasis will develop over time.

Anxiety expresses itself in multiple ways

 

Anxiety symtoms3 do not simply incorporate thoughts, but also physical symptoms and actions.

 

Thoughts:

  • Illogical fears and phobias
  • Extreme worry
  • Self-doubt

 

Physical Symptoms:

  • Greater irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Constant indigestion
  • Appetite changes
  • Poor energy

 

Actions:

  • Compulsive behaviour
  • Social avoidance
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Panic attacks

 

The latter tend to appear in more severe cases and can encompass chest tightness, a racing heart, breathlessness, sweating, tingling, trembling, dizziness, impaired eyesight, and even loss of consciousness.

 

As an individual with psoriasis you may mainly experience fear, worry, and self-consciousness. This can lead to social anguish and reflexive behaviour such as avoidance, which further propagates anxiety. 

But at what point do you know that your anxiety levels have traversed the threshold and become a disorder?


Acknowledging anxiety symtoms is especially challenging if you are clouded by fear. During a quiet moment though, and with the help of a mental health professional, you should be able to assess a little more ‘objectively’ how many of the aforementioned anxiety symptoms you encounter on a regular basis, to what extent they are hindering your everyday activities, and whether they have been persistent for months.

 

And without belittling psoriasis, which for psoriasis patients is at the core of their anxiety, ask yourself if your reactions to ordinary events still seem somewhat out of proportion. This is another sign that your psoriasis related anxiety is crossing the line Indeed, the anxiety spectrum is broad. For a fuller picture read on about the diagnostic criteria for anxiety disorders here.

Proactively combating and treating anxiety


Try to take it easy and slowly with treatment plans. Be wary that too demanding psoriasis treatments can in fact further fuel anxiety. Also worrying too much about your psoriasis could interfere with a treatment.4

 

Moreover it’s important to keep in mind that anxiety is narrowly associated with stress which, as you are already aware, is a major psoriasis trigger. It affects you and your skin, so it’s vital to manage your stress levels. 

Tender loving care, starting at home


Initially, take small steps towards tranquillity by endulging in a candle-lit bath, sipping on a herbal tea, painting and drawing, and going for a stroll. You may be locked-up in your own skin but you shouldn’t feel you have to lock yourself up in your own home too.

 

Then, it can be therapeutic to call your closest friend or family member, to open up about your feelings and air your innermost thoughts. Talking it out with a true friend will give you the opportunity to hopefully begin disrupting negative thought patterns. 

Venturing out


It’s equally valuable to share your experiences with people going through similar unrest. Find online forums like psoriasisclub.org and help groups like psoriasis-help.org.uk. Besides, group therapy5 is a perfect way to go out and start being socially active once more.

 

Prepare yourself for a potential panic attack by practicing calming techniques that you can resort to in moments of distress. One method that you can practice is diaphragmatic breathing. Sports like yoga can aid you in finetuning this skill. Remember that exercise in general also helps you release endorphins for a natural high.6 If you have psoriatic arthritis,  resistance training can  effectively improve functional capacity as well as alleviate pain7 in the joints if you have psoriatic arthritis. Ask your doctor what type of sport is right for you.

Seeing the whole picture


To approach the problem holistically, it’s additionally a good idea to reduce consumption of mood-altering substances like caffeine, and to eat as nutritiously as possible (including a little chocolate!). And ensure you benefit from the wonders of sleep, sleep, and more sleep.

 

The toughest nut to crack will be attempting to change your mindset. Rest assured however, deep anxiety can be overcome by following the right thought processes and techniques. For instance cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can guide you down the path to emotional recovery.

 

Combining CBT with the experimental mind-body biofeedback treatment8 could even allow you to gain mind control over bodily functions that are impacted by stress such as heart rate and muscle tension, and even alleviate some pain. 

Appealing for help and knowing you are not alone


To recapitulate, we are already conscious that out of control anxiety heightens stress levels and has a knock-on effect on how dramatically psoriasis manifests itself. Therefore don’t hesitate to confide in a doctor about your emotions, so you don’t have to fight anxiety alone. They will be able to help you manage stress and recommend tailored treatments. You’ll find that you can begin to relax once you know you are in good hands. 

Sources
 

This article is not intended to advise you about your health. Always seek advice from your doctor or qualified healthcare professional. Philips is in no way responsible for the content of any site owned by a third party that may be linked to the Web Site via hyperlink, whether or not such hyperlink is provided by the Web Site or by a third party in accordance with the Terms of Use. Any link on our Web Site to another site is not an endorsement of such other site and no judgment or warranty is made with respect to the accuracy, timeliness, or suitability of the content of any site to which the Web Site may link, and we take no responsibility therefor.

 

1 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/236299445_The_Risk_of_Depression_Anxiety_and_Suicidality_in_Patients_With_Psoriasis_A_Population-Based_Cohort_Study

2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24692521

3 https://books.google.de/books?hl=en&lr=&id=Lx9hf-3ZJCQC&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=scientific+study+on+symptoms+of+anxiety+&ots=WhsoJudM7d&sig=PZxDU_KOKbPtxWsx-TPwD4xsYAQ#v=onepage&q=symptoms&f=false

4 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3889305/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3890931/

5 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9109006

6 https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11845-010-0633-9

7https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10067-017-3917-x  

8 https://www.medicaljournals.se/acta/content/html/10.2340/00015555-2428

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