What if you went to your dermatologist to find out the cause of your skin problems and she said, "It's all in your head"? We've heard stories of doctors saying this about pain or other symptoms. But skin problems? Well, believe it or not, it's possible.
Now don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to say your skin problems aren't real. They obviously are. But what if the cause of your skin problems wasn't your diet, an allergy, or some environmental toxin. What if the cause was simply... anxiety or depression.
I know it sounds a little farfetched. But more and more studies show that stress, even the day to day variety, can trigger or worsen skin problems. Anxiety and depression can cause skin issues, such as small breakouts, to more serious, chronic conditions like rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis.
In fact, one recent study looked at the impact of anxiety and depression on rosacea. In the study, researchers followed 168 rosacea sufferers. The researchers wanted to see the relationship between symptom severity, discomfort, stress reactivity, quality of life, and symptoms of depression and anxiety. They used several standard testing questionnaires and scales to evaluate the participants.
The researchers found that there was a clear link between anxiety and depression and the symptoms. The symptoms improved when stress came down. And they worsened as anxiety and depression worsened. The correlation wasn't direct. But it was close enough to determine a pattern. What's more, the change in the seasons can cause the symptoms to worsen.
New York City dermatologist David Colbert, MD says he sees patients with everyday skin problems that are stress-induced. And Ted Grossbart, PhD, an assistant clinical professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School who specializes in skin disorders, said, "Some people are prescribed the latest cream, and their skin problem goes away. But sometimes that doesn't happen. Now we're recognizing this other set of resources you can tap from within - which is terrific news."
It's terrific news if you've struggled to find a cure for your skin problems and nothing seems to work. But the news isn't so good if you have trouble controlling your anxiety and depression. Using drugs might control the stress for a time, but the side effects can be horrible. They can cause dependency, memory problems, and, believe it or not, anxiety.
Oftentimes getting physically stronger - inside and out - makes it easier to cope with stress. Stress truly is part of the fabric of 21st-century living and what has worked for me and my patients is getting stronger so it's easier to integrate the stress into life. In addition to regular exercise, one of the products I use is Padma.
Padma Basic is a 2,000 year old Tibetan formula that promotes healthy circulation, cardiovascular health, an antioxidant boost, and strengthens basic immune function. When you improve your immune function, circulation, and cardiovascular function you are inherently stronger. Your stress level will probably not change, but because you're stronger, it's easier to deal with stress. The same stress that bowled you over at one time might be considerably more manageable as you get internally stronger.
A Swiss colleague of mine first introduced me to Padma 20 years ago. There have been over 38 studies on the efficacy of Padma. Give Padma a few weeks and you will be pleasantly surprised.
It is best to try to improve your anxiety naturally. Diet is important. It doesn't have to be "perfect." But try deleting the big offenders, especially sugar. Focus on keeping your blood sugar level even. Big spikes and subsequent drops in blood sugar can worsen your mood. And they won't help your skin at all. Eat five small meals a day rather than three big ones. If you live on snacks, eat a handful of nuts, seeds, and a bit of fresh fruit.
As for nutrients, I'll have more on this in next week's issue of Skin Care Insider. Don't miss it.
Better Health and Living for Women,
Psychol Health Med. 2013 Oct 3. [Epub ahead of print]