Skin: The Stress Connection
As hard evidence of this link accumulates, a growing cadre of doctors—many identifying themselves as psychodermatologists—are combining traditional skin treatments with psychotherapy, hypnosis, and meditation. An acupuncturist and a biofeedback therapist are part of the Yardley, Pennsylvania, practice of Richard Fried, MD, PhD, a dermatologist and clinical psychologist. A massage therapist and a psychiatrist are on staff in the office of New York City dermatologist David Colbert, MD, who says he sees patients every day with stress-induced skin problems. In 2006 the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York opened a psychodermatology clinic that offers therapies including mindfulness meditation and hypnosis. There's even an Association for Psychocutaneous Medicine of North America, consisting of both dermatologists and psychologists, which had grown from five members to almost 100 from 1991 to 2006. "Some people are prescribed the latest cream, and their skin problem goes away," says Ted Grossbart, PhD, an assistant clinical professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School who specializes in skin disorders. "But sometimes that doesn't happen. Now we're recognizing this other set of resources you can tap from within—which is terrific news."