looking in mirror

More than skin deep — the psychological tolls of acne

Psychologist’s research finds that acne is linked to mental health problems such as depression and anxiety 

June 29, 2020

Danielle Samuelspsychological and brain sciences, and other researchers conducted a data analysis on the link between acne and anxiety and depression. This is the first study definitively connecting acne and mental health problems. The authors of the study hope their research helps clinicians treat the psychological effects of acne in their patients.     


From ‘A study finally finds a link between acne and depression’ 

An analysis of 42 other existing studies on acne and mental health has finally found evidence that having acne does, in fact, seem to be linked to mental health issues. 

Until now, no study had definitively drawn a link between the two. 

"This resolves the question of whether acne is associated with depression and anxiety," said study author Danielle Samuels, a psychology professor. 

"We live in a culture that is quite focused on appearance," said Samuels. "Having acne is distressing because of the high visibility of the face. These findings validate the feelings of psychological distress that people with acne undoubtedly feel at some point." 

Samuels was surprised to see that the study found that depression and anxiety were more prevalent in adults with acne than in adolescents. She expected the opposite, as adolescence is a time when self-consciousness peaks. 

"About 85% of adolescents will experience acne at some point, then as awkward and as sad as you may feel, you know that you're not alone," said Samuels. "But for adults, this sense of being out of step with one's peers, and that acne is a teenage problem can be particularly distressing."  

In many states, acne treatment is not covered by Medicaid, because acne treatments are seen as cosmetic concerns and trivialized. "Dermatologists have long observed that people with acne suffer, psychologically," said Samuels. "There's a bit of a disparity between the cultural beliefs about acne, and the beliefs of the actual people that work with patients that have acne." 

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