Via @APA by Rebecca A Clay
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When Rick Fried, MD, PhD, gave a talk at a dermatology conference seven years ago on the relationship between psychological and dermatological problems, at least one dermatologist in the audience was skeptical about the mind/body connection. Then another dermatologist stepped to Fried’s defense, telling her colleague that before he attacked Fried he should at least make sure his zipper was up. The skeptic’s fly wasn’t really down, but his deep blush vividly illustrated the impact that emotions have on the body’s largest organ — the skin.
“How amazing is it that a simple cognition — ‘I said or did something foolish’ — can cause virtually every blood vessel in the skin to instantaneously open up, causing a blush or flush?” asks Fried, a psychologist turned dermatologist who is the clinical director of Yardley Dermatology Associates and Yardley Clinical Research Associates in Yardley, Pennsylvania. “That’s pretty amazing evidence that the mind and body are linked.”
These days, dermatologists are much more accepting of the field now known as psychodermatology, and psychologists are getting more involved in helping dermatology patients. They’re investigating the role that stress and other psychological issues play in acne, psoriasis, eczema, itching, hives and other skin problems. They’re treating the social anxiety, depression and other psychological issues that can arise when people have skin conditions. They’re also developing interventions, whether to help dermatology patients deal with psychological issues or to help people avoid melanoma and other skin problems in the first place.
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