Depression and Psoriasis

I learned the hard way that depression and psoriasis have a very real connection. Prior to my official diagnosis (and even after), I found myself in some dark places. I should also note that around the same time I was diagnosed as manic depressive or bipolar. My skin disease and my mental illness combined created a whirlwind of emotions that, at the time, I was working through virtually alone. I was lost and scared, to say the least. My friends and family were amazing support systems but there’s only so much people outside of your condition(s) can truly comprehend. But they did the best that they could. It became apparent to me that I needed to seek professional help and outlets outside of my inner circle to talk to.

What’s up with the Psoriasis/Depression connection?

I didn’t understand how something that seemed to be happening on the outside of me could be affecting things churning around on the inside of me. And even when I learned that psoriasis does in fact come from things happening inside of your body, I still couldn’t see the connection. At this point in my disease I was hiding most of my body, even on those hot summer days. I was even hiding myself, holed up in my house, cutting off connection with almost everyone.

When I did venture out into the outside world, I was stared at, pointed at, whispered about and avoided. Even people who knew me would avoid physical contact prior to understanding my disease. And who could blame them? What if I was contagious!? The combination of all these things, the simple act of not being hugged or kissed, took a toll on my mental health.

“An August 2010 study published in the journal Archives of Dermatology found that those living with psoriasis have a 39 percent increased risk of being diagnosed with depression than those without the disease, while the risk of an anxiety diagnosis is 31 percent higher. Another study, published in the Journal of Rheumatology in April 2014, found that those with psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis suffer higher rates of anxiety and depression than those with psoriasis alone.”(1)

After a little research and learning the statistics, I began to wonder what was going on INSIDE of me to cause this sense of sadness. I read that researchers found increased levels of cytokines — a key player in psoriatic disease — in people with depression. “Cytokines are a broad and loose category of small proteins (~5–20 kDa) that are important in cell signaling. Their release has an effect on the behavior of cells around them.” (2) Stress can trigger a mast amount of cells to release inflammatory cytokines and, in turn, cause the brain to release chemicals that trigger depression. (This whole process is, I’m sure, a lot more complicated but I broke it down to the simplest terms so that I could understand it.)

O.K., Great, So Now What?

Now that I (kind of) understood the link between my skin and my brain, I knew it was time to seek some help. For me, personally, the first thing to tackle was my manic depression by finding a professional. (But that’s a whole other blog.) Once that was taken care of, I was ready to take on my psoriasis-triggered sadness.

Here are some steps I recommend taking:

  • Don’t be afraid to reach out to people who might be going through the same thing OR just understand what you are going through. Mentors are available to you through the National Psoriasis foundation. Whether they have dealt with depression or not, they’re just great, understanding people who know what you are dealing with in terms of your disease.
  • Please, please, please find a healthcare professional. Therapy is NOT something to be ashamed of. Sometimes just getting it all off your chest can lift what seems like tons of weight of your shoulders.
  • If this is something you may need to be medicated for, talk to your therapist and he or she will be happy to recommend you to someone who is legally able to prescribe you the right medications. NEVER self medicate.
  • Find a support group. Some of my favorite people to talk to on a rough day are friends I have made through the National Psoriasis Foundation. They’re always just one text or phone call away. You can find their online community HERE
  • On a similar note, find a psoriasis blogger! Reach out to them and I’m sure they will be happy to chat with you and guide you in the right direction.

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Please remember there is always help and hope out there. Find what works for you and stick to it!

Keep Calm and Pspot On Friends xoxo Britt

(1) https://www.psoriasis.org/advance/link-between-psoriatic-disease-and-mental-illness

(2) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cytokine

*Images thanks to http://www.LeafScience.com and http://www.namikauai.com

** DISCLAIMER: THIS BLOG DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE

The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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RECIPE: DIY Strawberry Fruit “Roll-Ups”

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As you know from reading my blog, I try to maintain a healthy diet for my Pso-Sanity. Well, luckily I’m not much of a sweet person but when I got a craving, I tried to find alternatives to sugary things I liked. I came across these fruit “roll-up” imitations a while ago and they hit the spot. You don’t even need to add sugar!!!

Everyone has their own method to making these at-home fruit “roll-ups” or “fruit leather”. You can google a bunch on the internet but here’s my method. I do not use a dehydrator but if you have one or want to purchase one, I’m sure the process goes along much smoother.

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Prep time:  5 mins
Cook time:  6 hours
Total time:  6 hours 5 mins

What You’ll Need:

4 Cups of strawberries

Wax paper (O.K. to cook in oven with or you’ll have a melted mess that doesn’t taste good)

Shallow baking tray

Blender

Oven

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Preheat oven to its lowest setting, somewhere around 150 to 170 degrees.
2. Line two half-sheet pans with parchment paper or a Silpat baking mat.

Screen Shot 2016-09-14 at 8.43.39 PM.png3. Puree the strawberries in a food processor or high-speed blender.

4. Taste the puree and add sugar if needed. (I do not add sugar as I feel like it’s healthy and sweet enough as is.)

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5. Spread the fruit puree in a thin, even layer on the baking sheets. The puree should not be more than ⅛ thick. (To measure, stick a skewer in the puree and then measure how far up the skewer the puree comes.)

6. Dry the puree in the oven until darkened, dry to the touch and pliable, approximately six hours.

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7. Peel the fruit leather off the Silpat or parchment paper and cut into strips

8.Store in an airtight container.

Of course mine sometimes look like broken messes of sticky delicious fruit roll-up pieces but, hey, who cares if it’s healthy and yummy, right!?

“Stay Calm and Spot on” -Brittany xo

 

 

 

Traveling With Psoriasis

So, as you may or may not know, I do tend to travel a lot. Whether it’s for work or play, traveling with psoriasis can suck! So what do I do?

This weekend I was in Chicago attending the HealtheVoices conference and it was amazing (but I’ll come back to that in another blog). What WASN’T amazing was my packing skills. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on a plane (not nearly as many as Beyonce but you know…) and I still can’t get it together. I’m always scrambling last minute. (insert frantic emoji)

SO … I decided to get it together.

BECAUSE my skin is so sensitive and I do need special creams and lotions and shampoos, I packed myself a little “Pspot-On Carry-On” toiletry bag. Everyone is different and I am no medical professional but I’ll tell you what I pulled out of my little bag of tricks… (and, no, it wasn’t a lamp).

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We know clothing is important (for your skin, sanity, so you don’t get arrested… stuff like that) but let’s focus on some products. Here’s my arsenal:

-Grandpa’s Pine Tar Soap

-Grandpa’s Pine Tar Shampoo

-Blue Eiffel Naturals Face & Body Wash

-TheSleepyCottage sleep mask

-Any sort of baby lotion

-VitaminC Packet (just because)

-My own soft washcloth

-Any perfume I want (so long as I spritz it on my clothes and not my skin)

-A clean pair of panties (ask my mom… i can hear her nagging now… “Do you want to die with dirty underwear??” OK MAAAAAA, They’re packed! Ya Happy?)

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I tucked all my toiletries into this beautifully sewn bag and It was a wrap! Why didn’t I think of this sooner????

Moral of the story??? Just have a handy toiletry bag ready to go. Throw some of the amazing products I suggested in it (or don’t) but be ready. You never know where a spot may go….

HAPPY TRAVELS !!!

 

You Get A Giveaway! You Get A Giveaway! Everyone Gets A Giveaway!

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So, FREE stuff rocks.

With that said, I’m having my first giveaway soon! Thanks to Etsy and all the absolutely amazing people working so hard on there, I’m happy to say that I’ll be giving away at least 5 really amazing travel packages. Why?

Well, I travel a lot. And it’s been really tough on my body and my skin. A lot of the time I carry my bag on just because it’s easier (or because I’m cheap and not paying $25!!) – so I know if I bring my creams and medicines and special shampoos, I risk having them tossed.

In the near future I’ll be posting a blog about traveling with psoriasis and to the first 5 people who post a picture of their psoriasis or their battle with psoriasis on my Facebook page …. Facebook.com/SeeingPspots … I will be sending you a toiletry bag (I have men’s and women’s, don’t worry) with creams and oils and soaps and lots of fun stuff to bring on your next trip.

I’ll be in touch soon but for now LIKE my Facebook and follow me. I’ll let you know a week in advance when this will take place.

Hugs and Love to you All!

#KeepCalmAndSpotOn

 

Why Caring About Psoriatic Arthritis Could Come In Handy

When I was initially diagnosed with Severe Plaque Psoriasis I completely ignored all other forms of psoriasis. Why? Well, It certainly wasn’t to be cruel but I was just too busy wallowing in my own self psoriasis pity. I knew what version I had now and I had to focus primarily on what was happening to ME. Who cares about those other spotty people right? WRONG.

So fast forward a bit and It eventually sinks in that OH, because I have plaque psoriasis I am more susceptible to psoriatic arthritis at some point. Um, can anyone say yikes? Needless to say I was not happy about this revelation. But much like my realization and acceptance of plaque psoriasis, this too took a little bit of time to sink in but it sank… like the titanic. In fact, months after my own diagnosis and the constant wheel spinning of “where in the heck did this come from in my family?”, I was having lunch with my father and grandfather and BLAM. There it was. Right in front of me eating a pastrami sandwich. My grandfathers hands.

Psoriatic Arthritis: Hands
Soft-tissue swelling can be seen in the metacarpophalangeal joints bilaterally. Marked deformity in both fifth digits has produced telescoping of the joints. There is also sausage-like swelling of the right third digit. No psoriatic skin changes have occurred on the hands, but onycholysis of several nails is present, most easily seen in the left second digit.

Curled up into painful piles of bones were my grandfathers fingers. I had always noticed them, they were hard to miss, but they didn’t LOOK like my skin so I never made the connection. As a very stern, stubborn, former navy dude, my grandfather (or papa as I like to call him) never went to get this officially checked out. It was waved off and grunted at as “no big deal” or “just getting old”. But it was very clear to me that I was looking at a case of very obvious Psoriatic Arthritis and I didn’t need a medical degree to come to this conclusion. So what came next? AH! The revelation that my chances of PsA just increased substantially. I felt the pain and dread lurch over me and force me into a submissive physical hunch. So what now? Acceptance? Submission? Knowledge? A little mix of all three? I was in favor of a healthy mix.

So to the web I went…

What is psoriatic arthritis?
Psoriatic arthritis is a form of arthritis that affects some people who have psoriasis — a condition that features red patches of skin topped with silvery scales. Most people develop psoriasis first and are later diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, but the joint problems can sometimes begin before skin lesions appear.
So, again, why should I worry?
Well, I have arthritis in my family gene pool AND I have psoriasis so essentially I’m a psoriatic ticking time bomb. Factually, about a third of people with psoriasis will get psoriatic arthritis. People with SEVERE psoriasis (yup, like mine) could have a larger chance and USUALLY the skin symptoms pop up first. Lucky me, I know. According to an article by WebMD, “The Link Between Psoriatic Arthritis and Psoriasis” reviewed by David Zelman, MD**, “About 40% of people who get psoriatic arthritis have relatives with it or with psoriasis. Scientists don’t know which genes are responsible for these conditions.”.
So what now?
Buckle up and wait for the psoriasis train to pick me up and take me on another ride, again. Keep up with my doctors and my skin and prepare for the worst. As my papa would say “screw it, it’s all in your head anyway” and then he would order a martini. Psoriatic pinky up and all. Cheers!
FIND MORE INFORMATION at PsACounts.com !!!

*NOTE That the image in this article is NOT mine or my grandfathers (as in, they aren’t his hands but are super close to what his actually look like. I’ll have to catch him mid pastrami chomp next luncheon) but in fact belong to The American College of Rheumatology as watermarked. Thank you guys.

**WebMd Article Link: http://www.webmd.com/arthritis/psoriatic-arthritis/link-between-psoriasis-and-psoriatic-arthritis

***Brittany Hands Photo Credit: Jay Lee

What’s Stress Got To Do With It?

O.K. So Tina wasn’t singing about stress but for people with Psoriasis, stress certainly doesn’t feel like a “secondhand emotion”. So, why exactly DOES stress affect our bodies so much?

Well, stress can cause a lot of ailments and discomforts in the body. First let’s look at stress by itself. Stress is an emotional and sometimes physical reaction that your body has in response to an outside threat or demand. When you feel threatened, your nervous system reacts by flooding the body with stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, which gear the body up for emergency action. So why does my skin react??

Although medical professionals still have a lot to learn about Psoriasis, they do know that it is an autoimmune related skin condition. It is thought to occur when the immune system turns on the body creating an overproduction of skin cells (that’s why we have those fun white patches of built up skin). I don’t know about you but if my body is going all civil war on itself, It’s stressed out!!

So, if you’re body is like mine and stress is a trigger, here are some handy dandy tips and suggestions:

-Exercise! Get your butt up and get that adrenaline coursing. It will release your happy hormones too!

-Meditate. Put some OHM in your life.

-Put down that bad habit. Alcohol, drugs and even smoking can heighten your stress levels. Cut them back or cut them out!

-Get enough sleep. Catching those needed ZzZ’s helps your body re-energize and relax.

-Reduce caffeine and sugar. These temporary “highs” will send your system into crash mode as soon as they start wearing off.

-Eat healthy. Believe it or not, changing the way I eat helped my psoriasis tremendously.

Is stress a trigger for you? What do you do to help manage it!

 

The First Psign Of Pspots…

I dreaded this day but it’s here: The first sign of psoriasis.

I know it seems small from the picture (it’s a camera phone, cut me some slack) but my psoriasis seems to be making a triumphant return! yay!

No, seriously. My psoriasis seems to be creeping up on me. It started on my legs (as seen in picture, along with a wrestling belt – don’t judge me) my torso and, lastly, my face which is tough because, if you didn’t notice, I’m a woman and we like makeup sometimes. So what do I do?

For my face, I just do my best to keep makeup off of it as best as I can. I wash it but not too often because I don’t like to dry my skin out. I’m a big fan of tar soap so I apply that or some other “derm. approved” face wash.

For my body I stick with the Tar soaps or baby wash. I keep my showers at a warm, not hot, temperature. I wash my hair as infrequently as it allows (gross but true). I moisturize and I APPLY MY MEDICATIONS! If you have been given topicals by your doctor, please… use them! Nip this in the bud. But if you have no topicals, can’t afford the medications or just need time to get to a dermatologist, I encourage over-the-counter creams with tar. They smell, they’re not pretty, but slap that sucker on to your skin and saran wrap it up overnight.

The key is to find your own flow, your own routine, and just stick with it. Keep informing yourself regarding different treatment methods and what’s out there for psoriasis. Stay ahead of the game and on top of your health.

** I always encourage you to seek professional medical attention. All views and opinions here are my own and I am NOT a doctor **