Is Lichen Planus Caused by Stress?
Many studies suggest that stress, anxiety, depression plays a big role in the development of lichen planus and the flare up of the disease. There were some drawbacks in most of these studies; therefore, the effect of stress on lichen planus remains controversial. However, stress is identified as a risk factor/causative factor of lichen planus.
Treating lichen planus with drugs and psychological therapy is important in the management of the disease. The effect of psychological treatment and the outcome of lichen planus should be researched more in order to confirm whether lichen planus is actually caused by stress.
Stress can be defined as your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. It is a biological reaction to any physical, mental or emotional stimulus that tends to disturb one’s balance in the body. When the body senses stress, body’s defense activate in an automatic process known as the “fight or flight” reaction which is the stress response. This stress response will protect your body. Small amounts of stress helps you stay focused, energetic and cautious.
What Are The Effects of Stress on Human Body?
Chronic stressful situations or frequent stressful situations can cause severe destruction in your body. It will cause severe health problems in all most every system in your body. It can mess your digestive and reproductive systems, lowers your immunity and you are more prone to infections, increase the risk of heart attack, stroke. It can cause sleep problems, skin disorders, anxiety depression and other mental health problems. So it’s important that you live a stress free and happy blissful life in order to be healthy.
You may not be aware but skin and mental health are closely related. There is a debate whether lichen planus (LP) is caused by stress; however, the emotional stress can worsen the condition in some people. The skin is a complex system made up of blood vessels, glands, nerves and muscles which are controlled by the autonomic nervous system and it can be influenced by psychological stimuli. This can cause various skin disorders in the body.
Studies Done on the Association of Lichen Planus and Stress, Anxiety, Depression
One study conducted in 2014 with a sample of 49 patients diagnosed with lichen planus was carried out to check the association between stress and oral lichen planus. It showed high level of stress and anxiety in patient with oral lichen planus (OLP). Around 62.35% of patients suffered from borderline/morbid anxiety or depression.
Study done in 1961 with a study sample of 197 revealed that 10% were aware of precipitating stressful incident at the onset of their lichen planus. Other studies done in 1968 and 1993 respectively concluded that OLP patients had higher depression and anxiety score. A study conducted on 600 patients with lichen planus and another with a sample size of 100 showed that stress, anxiety and depression has an effect on development of lichen planus.
There were some studies that didn’t find any relation between stress and lichen planus. There were some drawback in these studies as well. Chronic discomfort the patient may suffer due to oral lichen planus itself can be a stress factor. Also the psychological questionnaires which were used to assess the level of anxiety, depression and stress in life in most of the studies were subjective. The objective component of the patient’s stress, anxiety and depression was not assessed.
These studies also suggests that along with the medical treatment listening to the troubling issues, concerns and stressful situations the patient is going on can help curing lichen planus and reduce the flareups as well. We can improve the quality of care provided to patients who are in such stressful situation by referring to a psychologist of a psychiatrist who is well qualified in identifying the problem and treating it appropriately. The reason for the referral should be clearly explained to the patient to reduce possible defensiveness and increase receptivity. Future research should aim on assessing the psychological therapy and the outcome of lichen planus lesions.