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More than skin-deep: Acne might be correlated to depression, study shows


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Having acne isn’t fun. When you have it, it’s hard not to let those pimples be the first thing you notice when you look in the mirror, which can be a hit to your self-confidence and a quick mood killer. And, according to new research, while that mood shift might as fleeting as a blemish, it should be taken much more seriously.

According to the study, published in the British Journal of Dermatology, researchers analyzed data from 134,427 men and women who had acne and 1.7 million people who didn’t within a 15-year period, and most participants were younger than 19 years old at the beginning of the trial. During that time, having acne played a large role in the participants’ mental-health status: Those who had acne had an 18.5 percent probability of developing major depression compared to only 12 percent in those who didn’t.

“Given the risk of depression was highest in the period right after the first time a patient presented to a physician for acne concerns, it shows just how impactful our skin can be towards our overall mental health.” — Dr. Isabelle Vallerand, lead study author

Researchers discovered that the participants with acne—who were most likely to be female—were only at an increased risk of depression for the fist five years after the skin condition’s onset, with the first year posing the highest risk at a 63 percent increase. While researchers aren’t exactly sure about the cause of this, reports the New York Times, it seems obvious, right? Any woman knows that going from worry-free, clear skin to constant breakouts is pretty startling and takes some time to get used to—especially because the occurrence can make you feel a lack of control over your appearance and, in a sense, identity.

“Given the risk of depression was highest in the period right after the first time a patient presented to a physician for acne concerns, it shows just how impactful our skin can be towards our overall mental health,” said lead study author Isabelle Vallerand, PhD, in a press release. “For these patients with acne, it is more than a skin blemish—it can impose significant mental health concerns and should be taken seriously.”

According to the study authors, it’s incredibly important for doctors to pay close attention to the their patients’ moods, in case depression does become an outcome.

So, if you’re dealing with acne and aren’t having much luck getting rid of it, there are some things you can do: Rethink your diet, try LED blue light therapy, and swap out some of your skin-care products. Sometimes the problem requires some professional help, though, so give your derm a call to take steps to ensure your skin doesn’t compromise your happiness.

Here’s the 411 on treating acne for women of color. Also, check out why milky cleansers work for acne-prone skin.

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