News / Calgary

Bad skin can affect mood: Study

Acne patients are at higher risk for major depression

About 90 per cent of teens get some acne.

File / Metro file

About 90 per cent of teens get some acne.

Pimples aren’t just annoying, a new study says. They can be depressing, too.

The research, led by University of Calgary medical student Isabelle Vallerande and published Wednesday in the British Journal of Dermatology, found the risk of coming down with major depression is elevated by 63 per cent during the first five years after being diagnosed with acne.

Looking at 15 years’ worth of the medical records from 134,437 British patients with common, uncomplicated acne and 1,731,608 without acne, Vallerande found the chance of getting major depression was incredibly common —12 per cent overall — but even higher, 18.5 per cent, in patients with acne.

“Living with acne represents much more than having a skin blemish,” Vallerande said. “It’s readily visible, it’s hard to cover up, and it’s contributing to problems with self-esteem and overall mental health.”

The highest risk of depression was in the first year after the acne diagnosis.

Vallerande excluded people under seven and over 50, those with other kinds of depression and people who already had depression when their acne struck. Given the nature of the data, she wasn’t able to say whether the stress and misery of depression could be causing some people to break out, or whether some third factor might be causing both conditions.

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