Emotional stress can be difficult to define. It’s an invisible, immeasurable force that can exist in nearly every facet of our day-to-day lives, even if we are not aware of it. Living in a state of stress can impact both mental and physical health – causing muscle tension, making the heart and lungs to work harder, upsetting digestion and releasing hormones that affect the brain and reproductive systems.
Those who suffer from the rosacea may often hear the same comments over and over again.
Individuals with prominent neurologic symptoms might be considered a subset of rosacea, according to a report by Dr. Tiffany Scharschmidt and colleagues at the department of dermatology, University of California-San Francisco.1
In their study of 14 rosacea patients, the researchers found that a high percentage had neurologic (43 percent) or neuropsychiatric (50 percent) conditions such as headaches, depression, essential tremor and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Although emotional stress is reported to be one of the most common rosacea triggers, effective stress management can lead to a reduction in the number of stress-related flare-ups, according to results of a new National Rosacea Society (NRS) survey.
Insensitive questions about facial appearance can be a double whammy for rosacea sufferers — the questions may not only cause embarrassment, but can lead to stress that may make the symptoms even worse. Fortunately, however, rosacea patients can usually bring this potentially destructive cycle to a halt by reacting positively, according to psychologists familiar with dermatological disorders.
For years, Heidi Nunnally was treated for what her doctor said was acne, but her skin never seemed to get better.
"I felt like a leper. I was embarrassed to go out in public," said the 44-year-old legal secretary. It was only after she was correctly diagnosed with rosacea seven years ago that she finally was able to regain a clear complexion and her self-confidence.
Conspicuous disorders like rosacea can involve so many other areas of life that even a mild case can be severely distressing, said Richard G. Fried, M.D., clinical psychologist and director of Yardley Dermatology Associates, at the recent meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology. But giving patients control over their disease can break the self-destructive cycle and help keep flare-ups at bay.
In addition to its physical effects, rosacea often casts a dreary spell on one's emotional well-being, according to a survey of rosacea patients by the National Rosacea Society. Fortunately, most patients said they are able to overcome these drawbacks through effective treatment and coping techniques.
Theodore C. Kent, Ph.D. has his own method for soothing his rosacea. He turns to poetry to help relieve stress and his rosacea symptoms.
"Poetry, because of its rhythms, dives into your psyche," said Dr. Kent, a retired clinical psychologist who now teaches retirees who have gone back to school. "It provides advice and encouragement that make you feel better about yourself."
Rosacea sufferers may feel dismay when the conspicuous and embarrassing symptoms of a flare-up appear for the first time. But if they resist accepting that they have a medical disorder, sufferers may be turning what could be an easily managed situation into one of considerable psychological distress as their condition worsens.1