Psoriatic arthritis and stress often go together. Get tips to manage stress to improve symptoms.

Stress is a part of life. And it's a big part of psoriatic arthritis.

When the body senses a demand or threat, it sets off hormones that get the body ready to protect itself. These hormones cause the heart rate to speed up. Breathing gets faster. Muscles tighten.

This response to stress can be helpful in the short term. But over time, the reaction causes the immune system to respond with inflammation.

For people with psoriatic arthritis, inflammation makes symptoms like pain and swelling and skin reactions worse. The greater the stress and the longer it lasts, the more damage it can do.

This cycle of stress and inflammation can be one of the hardest parts of living with psoriatic arthritis. Keeping stress under control can seem hard, but there are ways to do it.

Dealing with stress means finding what works for you. Here are some steps to take:

  • Learn when you're stressed. People can be stressed without knowing it. Learning what causes you stress and how you respond to it is a good first step. Look for changes in breathing, tight muscles, sweaty hands and tiredness.

    Your response to stress might feel the same as some of your psoriatic arthritis symptoms. Writing down when you feel stressed and what caused it might help you tell the difference.

  • Make a plan to stop stress. When you know what stresses you, you can either stay away from your stressors or learn how to deal with them.
  • Reach out to others for support. Sharing your feelings with others can help you feel less stressed. Family, friends and counselors can all help you manage stress. So might a support group of people who have psoriatic arthritis.
  • Use proven ways of dealing with stress. Many people find that using tools such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga or tai chi can greatly reduce stress. Just sitting quietly for a few minutes and taking deep breaths can help you relax.

    Moving, such as by walking, swimming or gardening, also can help relieve stress. Talk with your health care provider about good ways for you to exercise.

Stress won't go away. Learning to manage it can take time. But the effort to manage stress can help you live better with psoriatic arthritis.

March 21, 2023