Psoriasis Action Month puts a focus on the role of stress

These stressful times are difficult for people prone to psoriasis, a condition that can be brought on by stress, and can create further anxiety.

“People living with psoariasis and psoriatic arthritis experience depression more than the general U.S. population,” with a survey showing that “1 in 3 people living with the disease suffer from depression,” the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) said last week, releasing new data.

“Psoriasis is a chronic immune-mediated disease with an unclear cause, characterized by inflammation throughout the body. It impacts over eight million people in the U.S.,” according to the NPF. “The inflammation associated with psoriasis can lead to increased risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and even depression and anxiety.” For 30% of the people with psoriasis, it can lead to psoriatic arthritis.

The American Psychological Association warned a few months ago that a large majority of Americans are reporting high stress levels due to financial concerns, inflation, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Ukraine war.

“After more than two years of living through a pandemic, environmental, geopolitical, and societal concerns and an uncertain economic outlook, it’s not surprising Americans report overwhelming stress levels,” said Leah M. Howard, JD, President and CEO of the NPF. She said stress triggers psoriasis, and the condition causes more stress, due to “the stress of living with a chronic disease, social stigma, and even physiological changes associated with inflammation.”

Psoriasis is more than skin-deep

August is Psoriasis Action Month and NPF is using this time to raise awareness about the causes, triggers, treatment, and management of this inflammatory disease and also to “educate the public on the role stress plays in managing the disease,” which is more than a skin problem.

“There’s a misperception among some that psoriasis is ‘just’ a cosmetic skin disease. But it’s actually a disorder that’s driven by an overly active immune system that can attack many areas of the body,” according to Dr. Paul Yamauchi, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

He explained that, in psoriasis, the inflammatory immune cells that normally defend the body from injury and infection are over-produced. “They spread through the body in the bloodstream, causing extensive inflammation that can lead to the development of comorbidities,” Dr. Yamauchi said.

Biotech provides help

There is not yet a cure for psoriasis, but research is continuing, and biotech firms have developed treatments that control systemic inflammation.

“NPF has committed over $30 million to fund psoriatic disease research,” according to their website. Their initiatives include the Psoriasis Prevention Initiative (PPI) and the PsA Diagnostic Test Grant.

And in 2020, NFP established the More Than Skin Deep: Mental Health Grant, “looking into different ways to treat and prevent mental health issues associated with psoriatic disease, including anxiety and depression.”

BIO member Amgen has developed its FDA approved treatment Otezla for patients with psoriatic arthritis, a “chronic, inflammatory form of arthritis that causes swelling stiffness, and pain around the joints.”

Amgen recently “partnered with pop icon and entrepreneur Lance Bass, for the Double Take campaign to empower people to take action when it comes to psoriatic arthritis.”

As Good Day Bio reported, in partnership with Amgen and Otezla, Bass created a “boy band-approved dance move to check your head, heels, knees, and nails for signs.”

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