The research is in. Stress and lupus do NOT mix. Can listening to your favorite jam help?
We all know that stress can makes things worse. A prospective study published in 1994 by Da Costa, D., et. al, found that major life stressors in the previous six months (as defined by the research participants) were a significant predictor of reduced functional ability in 42 women with SLE. Functional ability was measured using the Stanford Health Assessments Questionnaire (HAQ). Of note, it was only negative major life stress that decreased the level of functioning of people with lupus; positive life events and stressors didn’t improve functioning.
One potential explanation for the impact of negative life events on lupus comes from a 2005 study published in the journal Lupus by Kozorca, E. , et. al. It examined coping mechanisms used by people with lupus. The participants of the study had low disease activity and no symptoms of neuropsychiatric illness. Depressive symptoms in lupus participants were significantly associated with disengage coping and emotional coping as compared to control participants and participants with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). These same coping mechanisms were associated with current distressed mood. The authors of the paper suggested that improving active coping mechanisms and minimizing the emotional response to stress may help lower psychological distress for people with lupus.