2 posts tagged “holiday stress”

Year in Review with the National Psoriasis Foundation

Posted December 28th, 2011 by

Bruce Bebo, PhD, Director of Research and Medical Programs at the National Psoriasis Foundation

Last August, we recognized Psoriasis Awareness Month on our blog and shared some little-known facts about this autoimmune disease, which affects 7.5 million Americans.  Today we learn more about 2011 research highlights – as well as upcoming initiatives – surrounding psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis in our interview with Bruce F. Bebo, PhD, the Director of Research and Medical Programs at the National Psoriasis Foundation.

1.  What did the National Psoriasis Foundation learn from its various research projects this year?

One of the biggest things that the National Psoriasis Foundation learned from its research projects this year is that a large number of people with psoriasis may also have undiagnosed psoriatic arthritis. Our new survey, conducted in April and May 2011, revealed that psoriatic arthritis may be more common than currently thought. The data shows that nearly one in four people with psoriasis, which affects 7.5 million Americans, may have undiagnosed psoriatic arthritis—a type of inflammatory arthritis that affects the joints and tendons and is reported to occur in as many as 2 million Americans.

Learn More about Psoriatic Arthritis, a Painful Complication of Psoriasis

We also found from this research project that people with confirmed diagnoses of psoriatic arthritis were not diagnosed in a timely manner. Forty-four (44) percent of the respondents said they had symptoms for one year or more before being diagnosed, and 29 percent of people had a delay of two years or more for a diagnosis. Early diagnosis and treatment of psoriatic arthritis is vital to prevent or slow joint damage.

2.  Why are your guidelines for pregnant and lactating women with psoriasis important?

These guidelines are important because treating psoriasis in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding presents special challenges due to the potential risks and side effects of certain medications. Also, because of the ethical concerns of placing this patient population in clinical trials, there is just not that much data to guide treatment choices. Many of the currently approved psoriasis medications could have adverse effects on the developing fetus, so care must be taken when choosing a treatment approach. There is also a lack of research to determine the effects of medications on infants who are breastfeeding.

3.  Tell us what research initiatives and plans the Psoriasis Foundation has for 2012.

In 2012, the National Psoriasis Foundation will continue to make finding a cure for psoriatic diseases its highest priority by increasing our investment in biomedical research.

This year, we will invest $1.7 million in research grants to scientists studying psoriatic diseases. We focus our investment on projects that have the highest likelihood to advance our understanding of psoriatic diseases and find a cure. The Foundation also awards Fellowship grants that provide resources for the best and brightest clinical scientists to study psoriasis under the guidance of an established research mentor. By doing this, the Foundation hopes to promote more young, promising clinical scientists to pursue a career in psoriasis research and patient care.

Find Out About the National Psoriasis Victor Henschel BioBank

Other research initiatives of the Foundation include the National Psoriasis Victor Henschel BioBank, a collection of biological samples and clinical information used by qualified scientists to further the field of psoriasis genetics. In 2011, we received our 2,000th DNA sample and were able to begin releasing these biological samples to three researchers who are studying psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. We will expand this project in 2012.

4.  How do the holidays affect psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis?  Any tips?

Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis can often be exacerbated by stress, and many people even report that stress is a trigger for their psoriasis flares. The stress and excitement of the holidays could worsen these diseases for some people. Additionally, the cold, dry air and winter weather during the holiday season can worsen many people’s psoriasis.

During the holidays, try and keep stress at bay by practicing stress reduction and relaxation. Some people benefit from participating in activities that help reduce stress, including: breathing techniques, meditation, yoga, relaxation techniques and regular exercise. Also, try and get enough sleep and eat well to keep yourself healthy during the holidays. Experts suggest that during the winter it is best to moisturize constantly and use lukewarm showers, rather than hot ones, to keep skin hydrated.


Coping with Holiday Stress and Blues

Posted December 16th, 2011 by

All Types of Patients Are Susceptible to Holiday Stress

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.  Or is it?

The holidays can be a time of merriment and joy marked by festive parties and family reunions.  But they can also be quite challenging.

Despite the great cheer advertised everywhere you look, some people find themselves struggling with stress, anxiety, loneliness and/or depression.  This phenomenon is sometimes called the “holiday blues.”  Add to that things like fatigue, insomnia and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – which affect many PatientsLikeMe members on a regular basis – and you have the recipe for a perfect holiday storm.

Here’s a look at how our patients are attempting to cope with the stresses of the season:

  • “Seeing all the lights, the preparations, the shopping for the holidays makes me dread what is coming.  I try to go to low-key places where there isn’t as much traffic and aren’t as many people.  I try to play down the importance of everything so I don’t become so obsessed with choices and opinions.  I take breaks.  LOTS of breaks.  I try to make sure I take them before I even become overwhelmed in the first place. And I try to find free things to replace some of the costs – either as presents or activities.” – Patient with major depressive disorder
  • “Having family meet on a major holiday is enough to upset the emotional applecart so to speak.  Try just to do an average job of cooking, it doesn’t have to be perfect.  Take a break when you can…get involved in objective projects: carefully following a recipe or cooking something with your mind fully on it can help calm panic attacks.  If you are doing your best, that will be the best you can do.” – Patient with Parkinson’s
  • “It puts a lot of stress and pressure on me. I have three children who get a lil’ demanding, and then a husband who expects me to travel with three demanding children and then stay at relatives’ tiny houses, etc. The noise, the gossip, the fake hugs from relatives who really do not like me, it all honestly just ‘gets to me.’ But this year, I’m taking my power back by saying NO to the parts of the holidays in which I do not want to participate.” – Patient with bipolar I disorder
  • “Sometimes I get depressed because I’m usually one of those people who have to get assistance to give their children gifts for the holidays. I also get depressed because I don’t look the way I want to (I am overweight) and do not want people to see me like that. So the gatherings can be nerve wracking for me. [But] I am learning to let go of the ‘shoulds.’ Not easy, but it can be done.  If I am really not feeling up to something (I get exhausted really easily), then I allow myself to not go, or not run the thing like I used to, or only bring one thing instead of 3 or 4. Pacing myself has been a good thing to learn.” – Patient with fibromyalgia

Are you feeling signs of the “holiday blues”?  Are the demands on your time and your pocketbook starting to overwhelm you?  Before you pack up the car or welcome any house guests, check out these great tips from the Mayo Clinic for getting through the holidays with as much joy as possible.