Today’s post comes to us on behalf of NewLifeOutlook, a lifestyle website for people living with psoriasis. Angela Finlay is a freelance health
writer who believes that variety is not only the spice of life, but essential for happiness and longevity. As an avid runner, rock climber, artist, and vegetarian cook, her passion for health and vitality stretches into each corner of her life. You can find more of Angela’s writing on NewLifeOutlook.
The Power of Community and How to Find Your Happy Place
Psoriasis brings a lot of physical discomfort, but every sufferer knows how emotional the fallout can be. Hiding your skin, dealing with medication side effects, sidestepping the social stigma, and struggling with your reflection in the mirror is difficult, and over time it could become too much to bear.
In fact, recent studies suggest that people with psoriasis are more than twice as likely to deal with clinical depression as the general population.
While there is no simple solution to relieve the burdens of the disease, there is power in numbers when it comes to living with psoriasis. Once you connect with other sufferers, you might just find that your hurdles are a bit easier to clear, your outlook gets brighter, and you improve your quality of life more than you thought possible.
The Benefits of a Psoriasis Support Group. Support groups are great for, well, support, but they can help in more specific ways, too. Consider how the rewards of a psoriasis social network can intersect with your particular psoriasis challenges, and how to use that to your advantage.
A Sense of Purpose and Belonging. Psoriasis symptoms can push you into isolation, adding to feelings of loneliness, helplessness, and depression. Experts report that over 15% of psoriasis patients could be diagnosed with major depression, and some will even begin to have suicidal thoughts. In order to avoid such a grim fate, it’s important to consider mental health treatment a crucial part of a psoriasis treatment plan – and that can start with social support in a sympathetic community.
Online anonymity is useful: it removes the worry and self-consciousness that comes with face-to-face interaction. Instead, you are defined by your discussions, and you’ll probably find it much easier to talk knowing that you won’t be judged for your appearance. You can focus on getting help and helping other people who are in the same predicament — two social transactions that can forge strong bonds and a more positive outlook.
A Wealth of Good Advice. Naturally, the more people you talk to, the more perspectives you run into, and the more opportunity to open your mind to new ideas and potential solutions. Other psoriasis sufferers may have walked the very same path that you’re on now, and found some clever coping mechanisms or effective therapy along the way. Instead of starting from scratch, you can use the lessons they learned as a jumping-off point.
People gravitate to likeminded people, and that’s great – shared characteristics or similar experiences are often the foundation for friendship. On the other hand, don’t miss the opportunity to tap into new approaches: online forums bring together an array of personalities, experiences, and outlooks, and an open mind may be beneficial when it comes to management and therapy. Of course, you shouldn’t take any suggestion without running it by your medical care team first.
Stress Relief. Stress is one of the top triggers of psoriasis flares, and it sets up a dangerous cycle. Aside from the universal stresses of daily life, psoriasis itself will strain your mind, causing more symptoms, which bring on more stress, and on and on. Family and friends don’t always understand (which is another source of stress), and your doctor has likely recommended finding a personal outlet, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for other people in your stress-relief routine.
Having a place to go to vent, laugh, or simply say hello will let you unwind at the drop of a hat (or the tap of a keyboard). When you can’t seem to relax on your own, you’ll have a host of people at the ready to help you calm down with some welcome reassurance, or at least a happy distraction for a while.
Where to Go to Find Fellow Sufferers
There are all sorts of patient forums out there, and each will surely have lots of support to offer. You’ll need to consider what you’re looking for in a community in order to find the right spot for you. Do you want to connect with a few people, and continue to meet that small group on the message boards for ongoing support? Would you rather have a large community with all sorts of patients, plus doctors at the ready to weigh-in on questions?
The key is to find a place that is easy for you to navigate, not at all stressful, and makes you want to keep coming back. You can check out general medical websites for casual chats alongside some helpful articles, or if you want an immersive experience, consider signing up on a psoriasis site like the message board on TalkPsoriasis.org. The Daily Strength website is a big and reputable online patient forum, and they have an active psoriasis support group. However, it’s worth taking some time to search for the sort of community that you need, and if you’re having trouble, ask your dermatologist or a therapist for recommendations.