There are actually two psychological aspects of skin diseases that need to be understood. The first is that the person with a skin disease looks different than others and this has a negative impact.  As a child you also get questions regarding visible parts of your illness. This can have an adverse effect on anyone with the disease because they are treated differently (e.g., at school, a pool, the beach, etc.). The second aspect is the impact on your mood, or with the physical expression of your mental state. If you're comfortable in your skin you feel better physically.

A psychological shock or very emotional event can not only cause us to feel sick and exhausted, but can also result in physical illness. Several studies have shown that a number of diseases are partially caused by the mental state in which we find ourselves. Deep sorrow can reduce our resistance. The will to live is very important. An example is the death of a partner that causes such a psychological shock to the other partner that the immune system becomes compromised. Our immune system protects us against diseases. When this system is affected we become vulnerable to disease. As we grow older, this system becomes less resilient, with the consequence that the elderly are especially vulnerable. This could explain why elderly people become ill more readily than young persons after the death of a partner .

Although the relationship between psychological stress and emotional shock and diseases is actually hard to prove scientifically, everything points in that direction. The branch of science that deals with this phenomenon is called 'psycho-neuro-immunology', and it has been discovered that a specific portion of the brain plays a major role. This part is sensitive to emotions and communicates with the central nervous system and endocrine system. Add to this the adrenal glands which secrete certain substances in response to negative emotions. These substances in turn affect our immune system. Perhaps they direclty impact the immune system negatively, but it could also be that these substances trigger a response in the brain.

The conclusion is certainly clear that psychological shock and emotional stress affect our resistance. Examples of autoimmune diseases where emotional stress plays a role are allergies, eczema and sometimes diabetes. A psychological shock or emotional stress is not the cause of the occurrence of a disease. The foundations for the illness must first be present. A negative mental state causes our immune system to be weakened so that the disease has the chance to strike. It is a fact that some cancer patients have been miraculously cured without any medical explanation. Some of these people have undergone psychological examinations which showed that despite different lifestyles certain similarities have emerged. After these people heard that they were seriously ill, their lives changed dramatically. The common thread was that these people became happier, more optimistic and more active. This could lead one to conclude that there is a connection between thought, emotions and the immune system. Practice shows that a positive and active approach is important. This is not to say that if you are active and live happily, you will not get sick.
To have the feeling of control over your life and feel that you stand on solid ground contribute to improved health. What must be noted is that you should not think that you can never be upset. It is important to express feelings and not bottle up sadness and frustration. This can also have a negative effect on the immune system.

A simple gesture like an arm around your shoulder or a compliment can have a huge positive impact. A good example is the famous kiss of a child's sore. This often has a miraculous healing effect. Sharing grief and emotions with others is also effective (remember the expression "shared sorrow is half sorrow').
In summary, one can say that grief and emotions are unavoidable but they must be processed correctly.


With thanks to Dr. WW van der Schaar (medical psychologist)