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5 Answers About Psoriatic Arthritis and Stress

Making time for yourself can reduce stress and may even reduce inflammation.

Woman with PsA sits on couch with drink.

Psoriatic arthritis is a type of inflammatory arthritis associated with a skin disorder called psoriasis. An estimated 30 percent of people who have psoriasis also have psoriatic arthritis. Together, the two conditions can be referred to as psoriatic disease.

There is no cure for psoriatic arthritis, and treatment focuses on easing symptoms, preventing flares, keeping the disease in a state of remission or low-disease activity, and preventing damage to the joints. Medications play an important role in treatment. It’s also important to avoid triggers that can activate and worsen symptoms. One example of a psoriatic arthritis trigger is stress.

What is stress, exactly?

Stress can be divided into two broad categories, acute and chronic. Acute stress is normal and healthy—it’s the physical and mental responses that you experience when you’re faced with something dangerous or exciting. It’s that sudden spike of fear and focus you feel when you slam on the brakes to avoid a car accident. It’s the feeling you get when you are on a roller coaster or when you watch a suspenseful movie.

Chronic stress is what happens when stress lasts for weeks, months, or years. It’s often caused by mental and emotional stressors—personal finances, relationship difficulties, the pressures of work and career, and family obligations are all examples. Chronic stress can damage a person’s physical and mental health.

How are stress and psoriatic arthritis related?

The relationship between stress and psoriatic arthritis can be cyclical. Living with a chronic condition like psoriatic arthritis is often a stressful experience—it’s painful, unpredictable, it causes fatigue, and treatment is an ongoing process that requires time, effort, and money. Additionally, stress can trigger inflammation, and many people living with psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis report that stress is a trigger for flares.

In other words, psoriatic arthritis can lead to high levels of stress, and high levels of stress may make psoriatic arthritis worse. Likewise, better control over psoriatic arthritis may help reduce stress, and reducing stress may help you better manage psoriatic arthritis.

What should I do if I am under a lot of stress?

If you have psoriatic arthritis and are under a lot of stress, the number one thing you can do is work with your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider can recommend strategies to help reduce stress. They can help guide you to healthier habits that may help, such as getting more exercise, eating a more nutritious diet, moving away from unhealthy habits, and improving your sleep.

What is a simple way to reduce stress?

One of the simplest methods for reducing stress is to make time for the things you enjoy. It’s been said that stress is not caused by doing too much, but by doing too little of the things that make you happy. This can be a hobby, spending time with a good friend, playing a game, listening to music, or even just reading a book or watching a TV show.

Sometimes it can be difficult to make time for yourself—many people feel guilty about it, especially when they have a lot they need to get done, and other people they are responsible for—but if the end result is less stress, it has been time well spent. Reducing stress is good for your health, good for your joints, and can also help you be more present in other aspects of your life.

What are other strategies for reducing stress?

In addition to this simple approach, you may want to try mindfulness activities like meditation, participating in a support group for people with psoriatic disease, keeping a journal, or taking up a creative pursuit such as drawing or music. Working with a counselor or other mental health professional can oftentimes be very beneficial when living with a chronic condition—and this is another area where your healthcare providers can offer guidance.

Article sources open article sources

Johns Hopkins Health. Psoriatic Arthritis.
National Psoriasis Foundation. About Psoriatic Arthritis.
National Psoriasis Foundation. Understanding Psoriatic Disease.
Cleveland Clinic. Psoriatic Arthritis.
Arthritis Foundation. Using Treat-to-Target for PsA.
National Psoriasis Foundation. Treatments for Psoriatic Disease.
Susan Jara. Psoriatic Arthritis and Mental Health: The Link to Depression, Anxiety, Fatigue, and More. CreakyJoints.org. October 7, 2021.
MedlinePlus. Stress and your health.
Cleveland Clinic. Stress.
Yale Medicine. Chronic Stress.
Arthritis Foundation. How Stress Affects Arthritis.
Mayo Clinic. Stress relievers: Tips to tame stress.
American Heart Association. 3 Tips to Manage Stress.

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