June 21, 2024

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Exploring the Psychological Impact of Acne and Strategies for Coping

3 min read

It can destroy self-esteem at crucial points in life, when beginnings of relationships and career plans are just starting. On top of that, patients with acne are already prone to psychological illnesses such as depression or anxiety.

In this article, we cover how acne may be affecting our mental health, and what we can do about it.

Self-Esteem Issues

For young adults, the negative long-term impacts of acne can be significant, particularly if the condition is chronic and results in scarring. Two participants reported that they became overly myopically focused on their ‘acne condition’ as a signifier of self-worth, rather than other positive personal characteristics.

The girls described feeling shame about being seen in public with acne, and fearing being teased at school by peers; in turn, they reported decreased open communication with friends and family members. responding to bullying and social rejection from kin is a risk factor for depression.

In spite of the difficulty in discussing these feelings, doctors should be aware of them and attempt to assess whether acne is an important component of psychological discomfort. However, because of its cross-sectional design, it was difficult to demonstrate causation in the SleepLab study, and perhaps this will be clarified in a longitudinal prospective study that could facilitate greater diagnosis, treating clinicians to treat more effectively.

Depression

One of the most prevalent psychological sequelae of acne in the adolescent population, depression is reported to be present in approximately 13-38 per cent and 50-70 per cent of adolescent acne patients, as per different studies.

The depression secondary to the acne can take a variety of forms, including a sense of low self-worth, helplessness and hopelessness; anxiety; social stigma or isolation; and an overall poor sense of wellbeing. Depression is also known to foster a withdrawal from normal activities, along with unhealthy coping behaviours that may lead to behaviours that further increase inflammation, including increased emotional eating.

Especially depression caused by acne is well-suitable for treatment medically and for this reason alone depression must be treated as soon as it appears since this should decrease the frequency of an acne outbreak. Additionally, to treat depression should make any individual with acne feel better about him or herself and should improve their quality of life.

Anxiety

Those with acne commonly report significant stress levels. People are concerned about their appearance and fear rejection from others; all of which can lead to low self-esteem and can even cloud one’s social relationships long after acne has cleared up.

Some of the participants described their emotional reactions to acne as an emotional rollercoaster: – when a cream works, feeling relief… if my acne isn’t improving as quickly as the cream is claiming, I become frustrated… when friends or family make unsolicited comments on how to treat my skin, I feel irritable… if strangers pass by and ask me why I haven’t taken care of my skin, I feel annoyed.

The EQ-5D results showed that the acne patients had higher scores for depression, anxiety and general overall health when compared with the controls. Additionally, female patients and people going through stressful life events were associated with higher anxiety symptoms; findings that correlate with previous studies linking psychiatric disorders with acne patients. These patients therefore require sympathetic support from their doctors and loved ones to continue with treatment.

Stress Management

Acne can result from stress by inducing oil production and creating clogged pores, and can also lead to people picking at it, slowing down healing that leaves scars, as well as avoiding social events which can impact quality of life.

The rates of depression in individuals with acne who participated in one study were three times that of participants without acne. It goes without saying that anyone who has an inkling that they might suffer from any type of mental health issue related to acne should bring these concerns to their health care provider.

Because this is a cross-sectional study, which can only record information about one moment in time and cannot determine causality, there is a need for more research into the relationships between acne versus psychological factors over time. While this is ongoing, you could try to minimise your stress by speaking to loved ones, and practising meditation or relaxation techniques such as yoga.

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