Almost everyone of us at some time will have had a big pimple and feel incredibly self-conscious about it. Some of us have had clusters of pimples all at once. Some of us have good skin days, some of us have bad days. One in ten of us have this every day.
Acne is the sixth most common disease worldwide, taking its toll on 660 million people globally. For people who deal with breakouts on a daily basis, chronic acne can affect their mental health. Having your first thought in the morning being to look in the mirror to see how bad your acne is and how others might react is enough to get to anyone. When this happens daily for months or weeks without end it can leave self-esteem on the floor and lead to disorders including anxiety and depression.
‘If you’ve got a long-term skin condition it’s not rocket science from a health professional’s perspective that it can have an effect on you emotionally,’
A recent study identified a link between acne and depression (which is no surprise to anyone with acne). The study, published online in the British Journal of Dermatology, drew from a large database of U.K. medical records, tracking the health of nearly 2 million men and women — 134,427 with acne; 1,731,608 without — over 15 years. It concluded the probability of developing major depression was 18.5 percent among patients with acne and 12 percent in those without.
The most common age group for acne are teenagers. Starting from the stages of puberty till the early twenties, there is a high risk that acne will develop. As a cruel twist, our teenage years are often a crucial period when we are developing our personalities and most susceptible to peer opinions about our looks.
‘People still wrongly think it is a cosmetic concern or related to vanity. When something makes you feel so low, it’s not about vanity anymore – it’s a serious medical problem.’
The cosmetic industry does not help the link between acne and poor mental health – even the acne skincare parts of it. Marketing phrases such as ‘healthy glowing clear skin’ being toted as a sign of good health can send the wrong message that if you have less than perfect skin you are in some way ‘unhealthy’.
This marketing baloney helps fuel the stigma surrounding acne that sufferers have acne because it’s partly their fault; for example through poor diet or hygiene. This message takes away from the important point that the root causes are often hormonal or genetic. Yes, diet and to a lesser extent hygiene can play a part in the acne formation chain, but they are not the root causes of acne. A person with acne can have an excellent diet, low in ‘high GI foods’, drink the recommended amount of water, meditate and exercise and still have acne. Another person can eat processed food all day, not exercise and not have acne. Acne is like that sometimes.
Could depression cause acne and vice-versa?
While the formation of acne is now better understood the causes behind it are not. It is widely accepted that, from a biological aspect, hormones and genetics play a huge part. However, scientists and therapists in the field of psychodermatology now believe both skin problems and mental-health problems may result from the inflammatory response associated with acne reversing the old adage ‘healthy body, healthy mind’ to ‘healthy mind, healthy body’.
This might suggest that tackling the mental health of those with acne is just as important as the healing the physical health.
Rather than promoting acne as something that effects us because we are unhealthy or because it’s something we are partly responsible for, perhaps the cosmetic industry should be saying its something that effects us because we are human.
Maybe, if this was the message, the probability of developing major depression wouldn’t be about a third higher in acne sufferers.
If you are feeling that you might be suffering from depression you don’t need to feel it alone. Charities such as mind, depression-uk, and young-minds can help you.
About 28 Day Skin
Acne isn’t just on the surface. Acne is a whirlwind that can rob anyone of their confidence and make them feel anxious and depressed. We want to do our bit to help so we give to charities which help people who suffer from depression. It’s our goal to help the lives of one million people within the next five years.