Acne stress and depression
Feeling stressed? Exams or a big interview looming? It might just show on your face. Acne can be caused by stress, and the worse your acne gets, the more stressed you become, leading to a vicious cycle. Beyond stress, acne can also have a profound psychological impact and may lead to a lack of confidence and self-esteem. While some prescription acne medications have been accused of causing depression, getting expert advice to treat acne is the first step to achieving clear skin and a more positive mind-set.
ACNE FROM STRESS:
HOW IT WORKS
Acne can be caused by stress1. Research has shown, for example, that students experience a worsening of their acne during periods of stress such as exam season2. During periods of stress, our bodies overproduce hormones called androgens that stimulate excess sebum production, which can lead to spots. There may be other factors involved: Doctors still aren’t entirely sure of the nuts and bolts behind the stress effect. But the important thing is to know what to do about it.
Understand the link between oily skin and acne HERE.
HOW TO TREAT
If stress is one of your acne triggers (stress acne is particularly relevant in adults), you need a two-pronged approach.
1. Manage your stress levels
Acne can be caused by stress, so reducing your stress levels will alleviate the “stress effect”. There are many simple techniques you can try to reduce stress. Consider taking a meditation or mindfulness course to help clear your mind. Or simply introducing exercise into your daily routine can be a great stress-reliever.
2. Treat stress acne directly
Stress acne may improve with reduced stress levels, but for a 360° stress acne treatment, you also need to tackle the underlying condition. If your acne persists, talk to your pharmacist, your GP or demartologist to find you a suitable treatments among the ones available.
CAN ACNE CAUSE
In a word, yes, acne can cause all kinds of problems, including depression. A recent online survey conducted by the British Skin Foundation (BSF) discovered that the top psychological consequence in acne sufferers was a lack of self-confidence (70% of respondents), while more than half said they had trouble making friends because of their skin condition. It’s clear from the BSF’s findings that acne can make sufferers feel socially anxious and self-conscious, and it can also lead to depression and worse.
According to a study published by the BSF (2012), the psychological impact of acne can be extremely serious, and is often overlooked, making sufferers feel alone and isolated. “Patients with acne and many other skin diseases often feel enormously upset about their skin condition, as it affects their confidence and self-esteem in so many different ways,” says Dr Bav Shergill, a spokesperson for the BSF, in a press release. “All too often the impact of skin disease is underestimated, and this survey will hopefully help draw attention to this fact.”
Alarmingly the survey also revealed that a further one in six (16%) people admitted to having self-harmed as a result of their skin disease. Some of those 125 people who took part also said they had even attempted suicide, with others stating they had contemplated suicide at some stage.
However, there is hope! Finding the right treatment is the first step towards clear skin and a more positive mind-set.
HOW ACNE CAUSES DEPRESSION:
A DERMATOLOGIST’S INSIGHTS
We asked dermatologist Dr Philippe Beaulieu how acne affects his patients’ psychological wellbeing.
“It tends to strike in adolescence, just when people are at their most vulnerable. Teenage years are all about learning who you are and forging bonds with your peers - acne can interfere with that process. The condition is not dangerous, but it can leave teens feeling uncomfortable in their own skin. Both self-image and self-esteem can suffer.”
Indeed, many studies have shown that acne sufferers display symptoms of both anxiety and depression, as well as feelings of low self-worth. It can even affect performance at work or school.
The condition has such profound effects that doctors have invented assessment tools to measure its impact on patients, such as the Acne Disability Index (ADI). Interestingly, the psychological consequences of acne are not proportional to its severity.
Does isotretinoin (Accutane) cause depression?
The strongest acne medication, isotretinoin (Accutane), has been associated with depression in some studies, but for every study that finds a link, another one crops up that says the opposite! The truth is doctors aren’t sure whether this association really exists, but it is true that you are more likely to get isotretinoin-induced depression if you already have mental health issues.
If you do get depression while on Accutane, you can stop taking the medication and your symptoms should get better. If you want to stay on the drug but are feeling blue, ask your doctor about depression therapies like CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) or medicines called SSRIs.
TREAT THE ACNE,
TREAT THE DEPRESSION
Does isotretinoin (Accutane) cause depression?
"When a new patient comes through my door, I always tell them they've already taken the most important step - seeking help and not going it alone. As a team, we work towards clearer skin and a brighter outlook on life. That's what makes my job so rewarding!" Dr. Philippe Beaulieu
For an overview of oily skin and acne, click HERE.
Click HERE for more information on stress and acne.
The Impact of Pyschological Stress on Acne.
Jović A1, Marinović B, Kostović K, Čeović R, Basta-Juzbašić A, Bukvić Mokos Z.