Acne patients have a significantly increased risk of developing major depression, particularly within one year of acne diagnosis, according to a Canadian study published in the British Journal of Dermatology. A new study, led by researchers at the University of Calgary in Canada, recommends monitoring mood symptoms in patients with acne, who could be at increased risk of major depression in the first five years after diagnosis.
The researchers used data from a major primary care database in the UK, collected between 1986 and 2012 (The Health Improvement Network -- THIN), to investigate the link between the skin disease and mental health.
Among the patients followed for 15 years, 134,427 had acne and 1,731,608 did not. The majority were aged under 19 at the beginning of the study period.
The probability of developing major depression was 18.5% for patients with acne and 12% for those without the disease.
The researchers found that the risk of major depression was particularly high in the year following acne diagnosis, reducing thereafter. Risk for major depression within one year of acne diagnosis was found to be 63% higher compared to individuals without acne, according to the study.
"This study highlights an important link between skin disease and mental illness. 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 author Dr. Isabelle Vallerand of the University of Calgary.
Doctors are advised to monitor mood symptoms in acne patients in order to ensure prompt treatment or refer patients to psychiatrists when necessary, the study concludes.