Acne not Accutane to blame for teenage depression

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New research from Norway has cast doubt on whether medication used to treat acne can cause depression and suggests that the depression and suicidal thinking may be as a result of the acne itself and nothing to do with the treatment.

The research was led by Jon Anders Halvorsen from the University of Oslo who along with his colleagues analysed the results from a survey of nearly 4,000 teenagers aged 18 and 19 from Oslo, Norway. The researchers found that the teens who suffered from acne suffered from mental health problems and suicidal thoughts more often than those who didn’t.

Furthermore, twice as many girls and three times as many boys who had severe acne had suicidal thoughts when compared to others who had mild or no acne.

Acne is a distressing skin condition that can affect many adolescents, which is a real blow at a time when they are already undergoing major changes in their social and emotional development. Self esteem can be low or non existent and add to that the burden of acne then it’s not really a surprise that they may be depressed.

“Acne almost certainly causes embarrassment, stigma, shame, guilt, and low self-esteem, which are likely to cause psychosocial problems. Acne may cause depression, which then results in impaired social functioning and suicidal ideation” say the researchers.

“There is a pretty strong and consistent association between acne and symptoms of depression or mental health problems,” said Halvorsen.

No one knows exactly what causes acne or why it should affect some youngsters and not others but it is commonly accepted that sex hormones, in particular androgens and the hormonal changes that occur around the time of puberty play an important role.

It is also known that stress can make acne worse, which of course can also trigger depression, particularly in teenagers.

Some medication traditionally used to treat acne such as Roche’s Accutane, which is no longer sold but is now available in the generic form of isotretinoin, although powerful against acne, has come under fire for causing mental health problems.

“There has been a lot of controversy regarding these drugs and that has made many dermatologists cautious about prescribing isotretinoin” said Halvorsen.

“Our study is important because it provides an argument for not being so cautious.”
However, it’s still too early to draw a definite conclusion, although the findings of the study could influence future treatment options for acne.

Halvorsen’s study was published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

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One Trackback

  1. By World Spinner on November 6, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    Acne not Accutane to blame for teenage depression | Fighting ……

    Here at World Spinner we are debating the same thing……

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