Acne Sufferers At Increased Risk of Depression Interview with:
“Young man with acne” by Sergey Sudeykin (Russian, Smolensk 1882–1946 Nyack) via The Metropolitan Museum of Art is licensed under CC0 1.0Isabelle Vallerand, Ph.D.
Epidemiologist, MD Student
Dept. of Community Health Sciences
Cumming School of Medicine
University of Calgary What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Over the past few years, there have been numerous reports that an acne drug called isotretinoin (Accutane) has been linked to psychiatric disorders. We recently published a systematic review on this topic and did not find an increased risk of psychiatric disorders among people treated with isotretinoin, so we wondered if acne itself may be contributing to mental illness. While it is well known that acne can have negative effects on mood, we wanted to assess if there was an increased risk of true clinical depression using medical records data.

Therefore, we conducted the current study and found that acne increased the risk of developing clinical depression by 63% in the first year following an acne diagnosis and that this risk remained elevated for 5 years after the initial acne diagnosis. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The main message of our study is that people with acne are at an increased risk of having clinical depression. While it’s a bit intuitive that people with acne might have a lower mood resulting from their skin, this is the first study to show conclusively that acne can be more than just a skin blemish, and can have a substantial impact on mental health. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Future research should aim to address the implications of a variety of acne treatments on mental health as well as investigate the impact of acne on other mental health conditions such as anxiety disorders. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Our hope is that this study can help to highlight that people living with acne who have mental health concerns should be taken seriously and any healthcare providers treating acne should help to initiate treatment for depression among those who need it.

We do not have any disclosures to declare.


I.A. Vallerand, R.T. Lewinson, L.M. Parsons, M.W. Lowerison, A.D. Frolkis, G.G. Kaplan, C. Barnabe, A.G.M. Bulloch, S.B. PattenRisk of depression among patients with acne in the U.K.: a population-based cohort study. British Journal of Dermatology, 2018; DOI: 10.1111/bjd.16099

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