Do you have depression, anxiety and acne? You are most definitely not alone, nor are you wrong for feeling this way. Acne is a stressful experience to go through and causes many to endure depression and anxiety on a wide scale. Find out why and what you can do to help combat your acne and depression.
Experiencing acne, regardless of your age or stage of life can cause you to feel insecure, lower your self-esteem, lower your self-worth and leave you feeling depressed. When you look in the mirror, the first thing you see is the breakout you have, whether it is one blemish or a face entirely covered . Even if you don’t notice blemishes on other people you are certain that the only thing people see when they look at you are the blemishes on your face. To add to your insecurity there are always those people who will make thoughtless comments. They may not realize how hurtful they are being, but to you it feels like a punch in the gut.
I have had people say to me, “do you wash your face honey?, you should eat less chocolate, I just wash my face with simple ingredients and my skin is totally clear, you should try that.” Comments like this make your self-esteem plummet even lower and leave you feeling like they think you’re not intelligent enough to have thought of those things yourself. The worst comment I ever received was, “Wow your face is so scary you look ready for Halloween.” I am not sharing these things with you for pity; I am sharing them so you, or someone you know, that suffers from acne can know they are not alone. If you have never experienced acne, I hope you can be educated by my writing so you can be more supportive and understanding to those around you with active acne or scarring.
My first experience with acne began at the age of 12 and only progressively got worse until the age of 23 when it hit the WORST of the WORST! I am someone that typically doesn’t battle with depression or mental health, but let me tell you that cystic acne can drive you to a place of zero confidence and anti-social behaviours. The good news is, you can use that experience to gain strength and understanding for others that are experiencing skin conditions. Going through a viral conglobate acne breakout, like my Doctors and my Dermatologist had never seen before, was what spurred me on to learn about acne to help others.
To combat my breakouts I was thrown on every antibiotic known to man. Being pulled on and off different drugs and products only perpetuated the exhaustion and low self confidence that had been building for years. You can’t help but lose hope when nothing is working. The worst breakout I had was viral, so the antibiotics wouldn’t touch it (antibiotics treat bacterial breakouts, not viral). So the only answer to my problems was the big guns….Iso-tretinoin at max strength for 6 months. Iso-tretinoin, also known as Accutane, is like a miracle drug for curing acne. It is one of the only things that can consistently reduce or eliminate all forms of acne, however it can also cause mild to severe depression in acne sufferers (in some cases, although rare, suicide has been a result of Accutane mixed with individuals that have pre-existing depression). Experiencing acne already makes you prone to anxiety and depression and Accutane can heighten this state. I strongly recommend avoiding the use of Iso-tretinoin if possible when treating acne. While effective, the side effects and long-term damage that can be caused by this Vitamin-A drug may deter you from using this as your solution. In my personal opinion I would always encourage treatment by using Vitamin-A topicals before taking an oral medication. Topicals include Retinol products (the purer the better) or Vitamin A creams. These products act as an exfoliant to help remove the dead skin and blocked hair follicles that are turning into breakouts.
What is the solution?
So how do we combat the psychological effects of acne for the future? The only true answer is to combat your acne to the best of our abilities. I know from personal experience that there is nothing anyone can see to make you feel better. The challenge is that we are still learning and researching acne to find the source of what causes acne in its many forms (I will write a future blog post breaking down the types of acne and treatments options for each kind). The best, first step you can take is preventing the breakouts with proper homecare routines so the breakouts can be reduced before they become severe scarring. Once we reduce the breakouts and create a clearer complexion we can work on building self-confidence and self- worth. Throughout my years of study and practice as a medical aesthetician I have incorporated mental health coaching into my programs to help re-build the damage created inside and out. I invite you to reach out to me if you, or someone you know, is currently experiencing acne and its effects on mental health.