Anyone who has experienced acne knows that it can really crush your self-esteem—particularly when battling hormonal breakouts as an adult. According to a new study published in the British Journal of Dermatology, we should be taking this risk to mental health far more seriously.
According to The New York Times, researchers in the U.K. considered data from 134,427 women and men with acne and 1.7 million people without acne over a 15-year period. At the beginning of the trial, most of the study’s participants were 19 years old or even younger.
Researchers found that during the 15 year study period, there was a considerable link between acne and the young adult’s mental health. Specifically, folks with acne were shown to present an 18.5 percent probability of developing major depression, while those without acne only had a 12 percent probability of developing the same mental illness. Interestingly, the rate of depression was only shown to be higher within the first five years of an acne diagnosis. The correlation was highest in the first year, when there was a 63% increased chance of depression in study participants who presented with acne.
Dr. Isabelle Vallerand, the lead author of the study, says this increased risk of depression highlights the mental health risks associated with acne: “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.”
Researchers still aren’t sure why depression and acne are linked (although they were not “surprised” by the correlation). “It appears that acne is a lot more than just skin deep,” Valerand tells The New York Times. “It can have a substantial impact on overall mental health.” Of course, anyone who has lived with acne could speculate why the skin condition could lead to depression. Still, attitudes towards breakouts are shifting though, and there’s even an “acne appreciation” movement gaining momentum online—led by bloggers such as Em Ford @mypaleskinblog—that could help change the stigma associated with blemishes.