The effect of stress and anxiety on your skin
The effect of stress and anxiety on your skin
NiceDay blog: The effect of stress and anxiety on your skin

Stress and anxiety start in your brains, but they have strong effect on your body too. Palpitations, sweating, a rushed feeling: these are all physical experiences we associate with stress or anxiety. But did you know that they can also have a huge effect on your skin? According to research, stress and anxiety can worsen existing skin conditions like acne or psoriasis, or even cause them.

Stressful times

In research done on 101 people that have psoriasis disease, half of the people stated that the disease arose during a stressful time in their lives. About two thirds of the group stated that their symptoms worsened when they felt a higher pressure. 

Another study on female medical students in Saudi Arabia indicates that stress had a major impact on the increase or worsening of their acne.

While in the medical world, psychology for the mind and dermatology for the skin are seen as two separate parts, they do influence each other. Dermatologist and Professor Francisco Tausk, from the University Medical Center at Rochester, explains how this works.

The physical effect of stress

When you experience a stressful situation, whether you are late for an exam or you are in danger, your body produces chemicals. The chemical that your body produces is norepinephrine, which causes your heart to pound and your muscles to tighten for the fight or flight response. But, these chemicals have a nasty side effect: they also produce molecules that cause inflammation. These inflammations can cause psoriasis or acne.

The cortisol hormone can be a helping hand. It stops the stress reaction and decreases inflammation. However, during stressful situations this hormone is torn down. People that have psoriasis or acne already have a lower cortisol level and cannot produce enough of it to combat the consequences. The inflammation gets worse and your sebaceous glands produce more and more oils. The result? A worsening of the skin condition.

Mood swings

On the other hand, skin problems often cause mood swings. Teens with acne have low self-esteem or are being bullied. Adults with psoriasis are ashamed for their skin and fear that no one dares to touch them. Sometimes it even makes them avoid social gatherings. Beside, some medication for skin problems has a side effect of depressive feelings. This way stress and skin diseases continue to reinforce each other and you end up in a vicious circle.

What can you do?

When you manage to tackle one of these problems you can break the vicious circle you’re in. You can go to a dermatologist to tackle your skin problems, but you can also start with your mind. Professor Tausk often advises his patients to start with mindfulness, yoga or meditation. Below you can find several blogs to help you make a head start:

When your skin problems arise from depression or anxiety, it can help to start with cognitive behavioral therapy. Visit your doctor for a referral.

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Faye van Spijk

Hi! I'm a curious communicator, I love animals and like to spend my days discovering new stories, people or worlds.

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