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does acne cause depression? new studies confirm the link!

August 22, 2018 4 min read

does acne cause depression? new studies confirm the link!

Psychodermatologists indicate “all natural” skin creams can help to permanently alleviate both conditions. Acne is the most common skin condition in the U.S., and is often mistakenly assumed to primarily affect teens. According to the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology: “54% of women over 25 now have some facial acne”. Back to the question, does acne cause depression? 

The problem

There is no single disease which causes more psychic trauma and more maladjustment between parents and children, more general insecurity and feelings of inferiority and greater sums of psychic assessment than does acne vulgaris” (Sulzberger, 1948).

Hormonal fluctuations, higher stress levels, and environmental factors are causing repeated acne breakouts at an increasing rate for females 25+ yrs that emotionally impacts self-confidence. There is no question that the actual incidence is increasing.

As part of the emotional impact, increased levels of anxiety, anger, depression, and frustration are frequently observed in patients with acne.

Worse, acne typically appears on the face, and one's facial appearance plays an important role in one's perception of body image, particularly among women. Given the emphasis society places on physical appearance, it's not surprising that a susceptible individual with facial acne can develop significant psychosocial disability.

The Vicious Circle of Acne and Depression 

While the link between acne and emotional trauma has long been documented, in recent years researchers have started to investigate the skin condition itself as a cause of depression.

According to a major new study published in the British Journal of Dermatology in February, 2018, there is a clear scientific link between the two conditions.

Drawing from a huge database of British medical records, researchers tracked nearly 2 million people, both men and women, over the course of 15 years. Among these participants, 134,427 patients had acne while 1,731,608 did not. The study concluded that the probability of developing serious clinical depression was 18.5% for those patients with acne, but only 12% for those who didn't share the condition.

The incidence of depression appears to be most prevalent in the first year following diagnosis.

"In the first year following an acne diagnosis, we were most surprised to find that these patients have a 63% increased risk of developing depression compared to patients who did not have acne," Isabelle Vallerand, lead author of the study, recently explained to Allure magazine.

Better Skin, Better Mood

Researchers also found that even as the severity of subjects' acne improved, when compared to the control group, their risk of depression was significantly higher and remained so for five years after first being diagnosed with the condition. However, for most of the studies participants, once their acne had been successfully treated and was no longer a threat, the likelihood of their falling into depression was no greater than the average person’s.

So while acne often leads to emotional distress, emotional distress in turn often leads to acne break-outs. Medical experts have known for a long time that stress can be the determining factor spawning cold sores, acne, atopic dermatitis and other skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis. To this end, in recent years an entire new field of study has evolved called psychodermatology.

What is Pschodermatology?

Psychodermatology is loosely based around the theory that emotional distress leads to skin problems, which in turn exacerbates the emotional distress that spawned the outbreak. Perhaps acne leads to emotional distress; perhaps it's the other way around. Psychodermatology studies the interactions between the skin and the mind, postulating that if unhealthy minds can lead to unhealthy skin, perhaps it also works in the other direction.

In other words, maybe if we can take better care of our skin (the largest organ in our bodies, after all), the strong link between it and the mind will promote improved mental health.

As such it stands to reason that we need to look at our skin as more than just a giant cover protecting our flesh, but as the actual organ it is, with its very own microbiome that communicates with the immune system in our guts to keeps us healthy. The problem, however, is that many of these same chemicals destroy the microbial balance of our skin, leading to immune reactions and inflammation that not only cause skin irritation and breakouts but have been shown to trigger mood issues. 

Given that the average American applies at least 126 chemical ingredients in personal care products to their dermis every single day, it should come as no surprise that all these foreign, unnatural entities can add up and eventually take a toll on your skin, and by extension, your happiness and sense of well-being.

Avoiding Non-natural Skin Cream Ingredients

This alone is reason enough to start paying closer attention to the various skin creams you use, employing the same level of scrutiny you might apply to reading food labels at the supermarket to the skincare products your system absorbs transdermally. There are select products out there such as Evologie’s all-natural acne skin care products, which effectively cleanse, hydrate and protect the skin using strictly natural ingredients.

If the scientists studying the relatively new field of psychodermatology are indeed correct, and most indicators have shown they are at least on the right track with their research, you would be well-advised to start looking for skincare products that are free of harmful synthetics, artificial preservatives, and other questionable ingredients, and instead opt for safe, natural products that both nourish the skin, and by extension, your mental health.

At the very least, you need to be aware of what is in the skincare products you're buying, and if in doubt about any of the ingredients, look for creams that claim to be “all natural”. However, just because a product says it's “all natural” or “100% Organic” on the label doesn't mean it necessarily is, these being subjective terms for some companies. Be every bit as scrutinizing when reviewing the labels of these products as well.

Fortunately, there are a number of genuine, truly natural skincare products on the market that any smart consumer should be able to determine after a quick perusal of their ingredients.

The bottom line is that there's solid new scientific evidence indicating that healthy skin contributes to a healthy mind. If you're an acne victim and are suffering emotionally because of it, the move to applying healthier, natural skin creams could play a major role towards improving your mood. And with that improved mood, you may well find the acne responsible for stealing your sense of well-being in the first place miraculously clears up.

Robbi Nagel
Robbi Nagel

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