Is There a Scientific Link Between Acne and Depression? A Derm Weighs In

October 28, 2021
Jennifer Hussein
By: Jennifer Hussein | by L'Oréal
Is There a Scientific Link Between Acne and Depression? A Derm Weighs In

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. In 2016 alone, 16.2 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. While depression can be caused by a whole list of triggers and factors, there’s a newfound link that most of us probably didn’t think about: acne.

The truth is in the science: a 2018 study out of the British Journal of Dermatology found that men and women with acne have an increased risk of developing depression. Over the 15-year study period — which tracked the health of nearly two million people in the U.K. — the probability of patients with acne developing depression was 18.5 percent, and 12 percent in those without. While the reason behind these findings is unclear, it shows that acne is much more than skin deep.

Ask The Expert: Can Acne Cause Depression?

To learn more about the potential link between acne and depression, we reached out to Dr. Peter Schmid, a plastic surgeon, SkinCeuticals ambassador and consultant.

The Link Between Our Skin and Mental Health 

Dr. Schmid wasn’t surprised by the study’s findings, agreeing that our pimples can have a big impact on our mental health, especially during our teenage years. “In the teenage years, self-esteem is deeply connected to appearance before one can even realize it,” he says. “These underlying insecurities often carry into adult years.”

Dr. Schmid also noted that he has seen acne sufferers struggle from a variety of mental health issues, including anxiety. “If one is suffering from frequent mild to moderate or severe breakouts, it may affect how he or she handles themselves in social situations,” he said. “I have clinically observed that they suffer not only physically but emotionally, and may harbor deep feelings of anxiety, fear, depression, insecurity, and more.”

Dr. Schmid’s Acne Care Tips 

It’s important to make the distinction between embracing your perceived skin “flaws” and caring for your skin. You can embrace your acne — meaning you won’t go out of your way to hide it from the public or pretend it’s not there — but that doesn’t mean you should neglect a proper skincare routine to help keep prevent scarring caused by breakouts

Acne-care systems, like the La Roche-Posay Effaclar Acne Treatment System, take the guesswork out of creating a treatment plan for your blemishes. This trio — Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser, Effaclar Clarifying Solution, Effaclar Duo — is recommended by dermatologists, to reduce up to 60% of acne in just 10 days with visible results starting day one. We recommend asking your derm questions before getting started on any treatment plan to choose one that’s right for you.


acne and depression

Educate Yourself on Acne

The first step to improving the appearance of your acne? Build up your acne education. “Parents of teens and those who deal with adult acne should be educated on the underlying cause of their acne, be that hormonal shifts, genetic predisposition, lifestyle, habits and diet,” Dr. Schmid says. “Modifications in lifestyle and habits may help to improve one’s skin appearance and lessen the frequency of breakouts.”

Dr. Schmid also recommends driving education about proper skincare tactics as early as possible for a healthier-looking complexion. “It is important for parents to teach good habits for skin beginning in childhood,” he says. “Children and teens who develop the habit of washing their faces with a quality product may help prevent some of these unwanted breakouts. Furthermore, these good habits tend to carry into the adult years and foster overall better-looking skin.”

Photo: Chaunte Vaughn

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