Quite a few serious medical conditions get worse when a person is under stress. Sometimes this connection seems so obvious that we forget to comment on it. One reader called this link to our attention with regard to a recent post, when she pointed out that a vacation probably relieved stress. That might have played a role in the first person’s recovery.
The Hawaii Vacation Might Have Relieved Stress:
Q. You recently ran a story about someone who suffered with psoriasis until she went to Hawaii on vacation. I too suffered with psoriasis for years, using creams, ointments, light treatments, etc. and have always loved sun and salt water. My psoriasis always improved after a little sun and salt water, but it went away completely after I retired.
Stress gone, psoriasis gone. The person who wrote about the sun helping so much had also remarried and was no longer working two jobs to support herself and her children. Her cure might have been due to relieved stress.
I believe stress is a major component to psoriasis. Many people may not realize they are under too much stress.
Stress and Psoriasis:
A. Thanks for pointing out the relationship between psychological stress and psoriasis (Dermatology Research and Practice, online Oct. 15, 2015).
Leading experts in dermatology and psychology recently convened a workshop on this topic (Frontiers in Psychology, Feb. 2, 2016). They agreed that cognitive behavioral therapy can be helpful, but also considered some online-based stress-controlling therapies as promising.
Other Stress-Related Conditions:
Psoriasis is not the only disorder that is exacerbated by psychological stress. It does not come as a surprise that cancer falls into this category. Researchers have recently figured out the molecular pathways involved in this instance (Current Pharmaceutical Design, online Feb. 26, 2016).
Cardiovascular disease, particularly heart attack, is also made worse when psychological stress is high (American Journal of Cardiology, online, Feb. 2, 2016). While psychological stress may seem like an imprecise concept, the fact that people under higher stress may have shorter telomeres (the caps on the chromosomes) suggests that the link is not imaginary and has real biological effects (Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, online Feb. 4, 2016).
We conclude that it makes sense for all of us to learn techniques to handle our stress rather than let it make us unhealthy. Physical exercise, meditation and spending time in nature are three tried-and-true techniques that are readily accessible to most people and may be useful in relieving stress (Journal of Physical Therapy Science, Dec., 2015) .