“ MIND OVER MATTER “ they say ,but in the course of our daily life we often forget that mind really matters.
For the past few years of dealing with patients having various skin and hair concerns in the widest sense, I have addressed that 60% of people seeking treatment for skin and hair problems have significant stress issues in their life . Skin problems can affect a lot more than your face and body . Emotional issues can not only trigger your skin problems but also keep the most sophisticated treatments from working properly .
when people with persistent ECZEMA( the crackled ,dry and itchy skin ) ,STUBBORN ACNE (pimples) , CHRONIC PSORIASIS(scaly and flaky skin),RECURRENT HERPES(shingles)and VITILIGO( white patches) present me their underlined skin conditions and even after been treated with best of the emollients ,lotions,creams and all the wonder drugs like steroids and vitamin A derivatives ,many skin suffers have been cured,yet some are not !
Understanding physiology of skin beyond symptoms : Skin is also an organ of body just as heart ,liver and kidneys . Just as stress can make your heart beat faster and blood pressure rise ,fear makes your skin turn pale and embarrassment can make you skin blush, ones skin is constantly utilized consciously or subconsciously as an outlet to relieve tension. Emotional conflicts ,anxieties ,and other stresses can trigger and aggravate your skin problems. The fact is ,No one is immune to emotional stress.
One fine morning while sitting in veranda sipping up my coffee ,stirring up my thoughts as well ,I reminded myself a simple principle of both ancient and forgotten that MIND AND BODY functions as a unit in both health and disease. since they cannot be separated into two different entities, to treat one and not another is often fraught with failure ,a combined therapeutic approach is often needed for complete relief from many chronic skin disorders. You all know the law of conservation of matter and energy ,they can be neither be created nor can be destroyed only can be converted from one form to another . Emotion a kind of psychic energy obeys the same law ,shut anger,sadness or frustration out of the door and they will come back from the window or often through the body .
And that is why your heart - attacks ,asthma - gasps ,eczema - weeps ,psoriasis - sheds off .
HERE ARE SOME HEARTBREAKING PSYCHOLOGICAL AND PSYCOSOCIAL IMPACTS SIGNIFICANTLY SEEN IN PATIENTS SUFFERING FROM CHRONIC SKIN AILMENTS .
1. ACNE AND SOCIAL PHOBIA .
Since the age of adolescence is a time of identity formation ,social phobia is observed very commonly in patients of acne ,Social interaction during the years of adolescence is of great importance and that’s why patients often tend to develop severe ACNE EXCORIE(a form of acne which develops specifically after picking up pimples on day to day basis ) , Skin under stress produces more sebum(oily discharge ) which contributes to clogged pores and aggravates acne . Having acne as a teenager isn’t just a cosmetic issue ,they can also massively affect your self esteem(especially in females ) .Apart from social phobia these patients are often tend to express more annoyance and social withdrawal .In india women still believe that physical attractiveness increases the ability to secure jobs and form more physically and emotionally secured relationships .
2. ECZEMA AND STRAINED FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS .
Family relationships are found to become strained when a person has eczema ,People with eczema look and feel different .In older age groups when physical appearance and attractiveness becomes increasingly important ,chronically inflamed ,crackled ,dry and itchy skin is perceived unattractive and can cause much anxiety and depression .Sleeplessness due to scratching ,which specially worsens at night leads to fatigue and increase psychological distress, these patients often feel a perpetual burden that there is a need to find measures to hide their disorder either by makeup or clothing .Due to the permanency and higher symptom visibility of eczema , this as a whole is seen to affect their family and other family relationships .
3. VITILIGO AND DIMINISHED POTENTIAL OF PURSUING A QUALITATIVE MARRIED LIFE .
Vitiligo leads to a serious sense of disfigurement and dis-empowerment .In asian societies patients are not only found to face rejection from family and society ,but also develop a ruined or weakened sense of identity .In Saudi Arabia ,vitiligo is still considered as contagious .In India vitiligo is considered as one of the major barrier to marriage ,due to which many patients do not disclose the disorder to their spouses before marriage for the fear of rejection ,Even after marriage in law conflicts are not so uncommon ,and worst of all there are still female patients being reported on daily basis (especially in rural areas ) who are encouraged to divorce if she was not cured. As a result depression is a serious repercussion of the disease ,suicidal indentation is seen as a consequence of the emotional burden inflicted upon the patients especially the females who particularly coped poorly with the treatment.
4 . PSORIASIS AND WORK LIFE IMPAIRMENT .
Patients of psoriasis face both physical and psycosocial impairment , which affects their quality of work life ,Especially in patients suffering from palmoplantar psoriasis (a chronic form of psoriasis which mainly affects the palms and soles ),which interferes with their daily activities due to the pain caused while using their hands and feet which affects the work productivity ,economic stand point thus leading to limitations on the inflow of income which may cause stress and disruption among the family . People with psoriasis are still asked to leave swimming pools due the stigma that its infectious and might spread to other people as well.The effect of psoriasis is often reflected in the multidimensional impact of the disease encompassing work difficulties and social limitations along with family dysfunction .
Just as psychotherapists have learned to psychologically lower down the blood pressure and so do all the yoga and meditation experts .
Here are a few tricks and techniques i share below which can help to make your mind your skin’s ally rather than its enemy .
Proper sleep – A good sleep is key to a healthy immune system ,and also an important factor in treating skin conditions .
Think more water and less sugar – pile your plate with plants ,veggies ,fruits and fish to keep mood disorders ,depression and chronic skin issues at bay
Time spent well – spending some time doing the things you enjoy the most like chatting with a friend or visting your favourite place ,enjoying your favourite meal also can tame tension and raise levels of feel good brain chemicals called endorphins .
Exercise – atleast 3 times a week plays a very important role in boosting your mood which inturn helps to ease your symptoms .
Mindfulness and Guided relaxation – sessions which help you to built skills to manage stress and explore ways to deal with physical and emotional pain.
Yoga and Breathing exercises – powerful tool for preventing the onset of depressed mood and anxiety .
Journaling – writing is a powerful way to focus your thoughts .
Habit reversal – it mainly involves the process which helps to reduce or break the habits which are worsening your skin conditions such as over scratching of skin or picking up the skin lesions. (preferably done with the help of a therapist )
Visual imagery –visualizing positive emotional scenarios elicts stronger and more positive reactions on mind .
Cognitive behaviorial therapy – a form of talk therapy focused on watching for negative thought patterns to change your feelings and behavior. You can also ask your doctor to recommend a therapist for the same .