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By Laura Dolgy (bio below)
Living with eczema can be both physically and emotionally draining, not to mention it can really wreak havoc on self esteem and self love. But did you ever stop to think that perhaps negative thoughts are limiting you from truly healing?
This week we look at the connection between eczema and depression, as well as some of the necessary steps needed to change your mindset to more positive thoughts.
Please keep in mind that we are in no way medical professionals. If you are experiencing depression or severe eczema, please make sure to seek medical advice immediately.
A recent survey by the National Eczema Association found that more than 30% of eczema sufferers have been diagnosed with depression and/or anxiety. Although the connection between eczema and depression is still unknown, there are some ideas as to how depression can develop in those suffering from eczema.
First things first, if you or a loved one experiences any of the following symptoms, please consult a health care provider as soon as possible.
- Feeling sad, empty and/or anxious
- Feeling hopeless
- Lost of interest in hobbies or other activities
- Decreased energy, feeling tired more often
- Difficulty concentrating
- Restlessness, unable to sit still
- Problems sleeping
- Weight change
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Eczema can be really tough to handle emotionally and physically. Make sure you have a support group, friends and family to talk to about your skin health and mental health.
Stress & Relaxation
If you didn’t already know, one of the most common triggers for eczema is stress. When the body experiences stress, it goes into a flight-or-fight mode and responds by increasing stress hormones, which in turn can wreak havoc on anyone’s body and immune system. Stress eventually suppresses the immune system and can cause an inflammatory response (like eczema) to occur.
The problem with stress is that although it can trigger eczema initially, having eczema can trigger stress as well, thus creating a vicious cycle of symptoms. Both eczema and stress really do go hand-in-hand. Although it’s very difficult to completely eradicate stress as a trigger, there are many different approaches that can be taken to control your stress and therefore possibly control your eczema trigger. Learn more about Eczema and Stress.
One way of dealing with heightened levels of stress or eczema and depression is learning to relax more. Although this is easier said than done, there are a variety of activities out there that can help both your mind and body relax. Here are just a few:
- Yoga/Tai Chi
Obviously what works for one person may not work for another, so it’s important to find an activity that you’ll be able to stick to and that you also really enjoy.
If your little one happens to be suffering from eczema, make sure to check out our blog post: 8 Ways to Relieve Stress in Children with Eczema.
Aside from healing through managing stress, many eczema sufferers have also found that positive thinking can also heal as well. Some researchers believe that positive beliefs may alter the immune system, therefore turning off the stress trigger and promoting relaxation.
Thinking positively can also stimulate the body’s natural endorphins, which in turns can promote a healthier mood and generally positive mental health.
Being in a constant state of negative energy can cause negative effects on the body, causing the body to react in a flight-or-fight behavior that is activated by stress. Unloving thoughts towards your body or your general state can actually have adverse reactions and can in turn cause the sympathetic nervous system to create a stress response.
To learn more about shifting that negative energy and finding a new mindset while suffering from eczema, make sure to check out Prime Physique Nutrition’s Abbi Lai’s e-book: The Power of Thoughts: How Mindset Shifts Can Eliminate Eczema.
Eczema and Gut Health
If you’re suffering from eczema, then more than likely your gut health is suffering too. Did you know that bad gut health can actually affect the brain and that distress can actually affect the gut?
Recent studies and research have shown that the gut acts as a second brain. In fact, this organ is lined with cells that look identical to those in the brain and also functions with hormones that are seen in the brain like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine.
With eczema, the gut becomes affected due to an overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria that in turn causes inflammation. This inflammation can cause distress for the brain and can possibly result in mental health issues like depression.
To understand more about the brain and gut connection, make sure to check out our blog post with Dr. Robin Miller, author HEALED: Health & Wellness for the 21st Century and medical reporter on NBC: Eczema and Gut Health: A Connection Between Brain and Body.
Looking for more guidance?
We recommend reading 6 Inspiring Tips for Living with Eczema Based the Power of Trust & Acceptance for some powerful advice from life coach Marieke Bosch Larose.
Don’t forget to also check out Camille Knowles’ The Beauty of Eczema, a wonderful read for understanding how emotions and mindset play a crucial role in one’s eczema battle.
Lastly, check out this great webinar below from the National Eczema Association by Dr. Jennifer Moyer Darr. It’s a powerful overview of all the ways eczema can impact our life and how to make changes so that eczema doesn’t consume you.
For information on healing eczema naturally, see our page Start Here for Eczema Relief.
Are you suffering from eczema and depression? Tell your story in our comments section below!
Bio: Laura is a contributor and content developer for It’s An Itchy Little World. She is in no way a medical professional. Her comments, suggestions, and reflections are not intended to replace any medical advice. Always seek the help of a medical professional before undertaking any diet or lifestyle changes. Please see It’s An Itchy Little World’s disclaimer for information about affiliate links and more.