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It has long been recognised that psoriasis is a complex skin disease that has psychological associations as well as physical ones. It’s thought that stress can play a role in the flare-up of symptoms, and many sufferers can often trace their first outbreak back to a stressful event or period in their life.

With this in mind, the role of stress reduction has become an important part of psoriasis treatment. Stress releases a hormone called cortisol in the body, which can cause inflammation. In psoriasis, symptoms are triggered by an inflammatory response in the body, so it’s not hard to see how the two go hand in hand.

One approach that has been gaining traction in recent times, alongside conventional psoriasis treatment, is the use of cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT.

CBT is one of many so-called ‘talking’ therapies, and its aim is to change negative thought patterns in patients. By altering the way that you think or behave, it can help you to better manage your problems or health condition (http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cognitive-behavioural-therapy/Pages/Introduction.aspx).

CBT is most often used to treat anxiety or depression, but a number of studies have recently been carried out to see what effects it may have on treating skin diseases that have a psychological interaction, such as psoriasis. The results, so far, have proved quite enlightening.

Researchers have discovered that treatments such as CBT can prove beneficial in many ways, improving the quality of life of sufferers and reducing the severity of symptoms (http://psoriasisnewstoday.com/2016/06/14/efficacy-of-biofeedback-and-cognitive-behavioural-therapy-in-psoriatic-patientsa-single-blind-randomized-and-controlled-study-with-added-narrow-band-ultraviolet-b-therapy/).

Studies have found that CBT can help to ease the anxiety or depression that many sufferers of this skin disease experience. In fact, it’s thought that a third of people with psoriasis report feelings of anxiety or depression (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK327714/).

Research has also indicated that CBT can help to retrain the brain to think differently about this skin disease and can even improve physical symptoms. It can also help to reverse the bad habits associated with the disease, such as changing behaviour to reduce scratching and itching. Other relaxation techniques and meditation have also been shown to help ease symptoms, although not to the same extent as CBT (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/9499471/Skin-disease-hope-through-psychotherapy.html).

CBT and other talking or relaxation therapies are certainly beginning to gain recognition in their role managing symptoms of skin diseases such as psoriasis. With further research, it could be that sufferers rely more and more on these treatments as much as conventional methods.

 

This guest article has been written by Tania Godoy from HelloSkin.

 

 

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