The developmental and mental effects of acne
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06-22-15 Category: Mental Health, Therapy


The connection between the brain and body is a deeply rooted and developing relationship. As a person grows older, his or her mind will experience a stream of thoughts and emotions that will influence the body. Peaks of happiness can reflect higher levels of physical energy and extreme stress has been shown to weaken the body’s immune system. Most importantly, the flow is both bidirectional and interdependent. An individual’s bodily health also impacts mental health, as experiences of great pain can induce trauma and one’s perceived appearance has been shown to affect psychological processes as well.

Acne and mental health

One particular link between the human mind and body is acne’s effect on one’s self-esteem and emotional stability. Acne vulgaris is a skin condition that typically begins during adolescence, but can also appear in or last through periods of adulthood. The condition is marked by different types of blemishes that grow on the face, neck, upper chest and back. If left unchecked, pimples and pustules can lead to skin scarring that will persist beyond the acne itself. While the pain of this phenomenon is minimal at best, the psychological harm it can inflict is significantly higher.

When it comes down to it, most human beings build up a perception of normalcy within the world. These established norms include how a person should look. Even on an implicit level, people look for these universal signs of genetics when socializing, especially symmetry and clear skin. In addition, teenagers fabricate further standards of beauty and prosperity from different sources of media and celebrities. Together, these physical and social ideals directly conflict with the symptoms of acne. When afflicted individuals look into the mirror, they do not see a person who can be admired.

Accumulated research explains that when a heightened perception of these factors grabs hold of one’s thoughts, a host of mental issues are soon to follow. Physical self-consciousness will lead to associated feelings of dissatisfaction and embarrassment. In more serious cases, symptoms of depression, anxiety, social inhibition and psychosomatic pain and discomfort are also reported. Specifically, one study found that out of its sample of participants with chronic acne, 44 percent suffered from anxiety and another 18 percent suffered from depression. Suicidal ideation was also noticed in some individuals.

Previous studies have attempted to place blame on specific acne treatments like isotretinoin also known as Accutane, but the data note that most people who express depressive and suicidal tendencies have a history of the disorder before receiving the administered treatment. While it is not safe to say these remedies have no part in the development of mental dysfunction, scholars and clinicians should continue to explore the intermingling processes that also exist between the skin and the brain.

Adult acne and mental health

For some, the onset of acne can take place after adolescence. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Women’s Health recruited almost 3,000 participants between the ages of 10 and 70 to analyze the current state of acne in adulthood. Researchers discovered that 27 percent of adults met the clinical criteria for the condition and an additional 29 percent had mild acne. The opinions of these evident trends are split. Some believe the high numbers are due to modern, external factors like work stress, diet or pollution. Others believe this is due to an increased awareness of possible acne treatments, which led to increased clinical visits and diagnoses.

In addition to the prevalence, many personal accounts state that acne in adulthood is an entirely different beast than adolescence. Topical ointments and over-the-counter cleansers often lack effectiveness. Dealing with a more advanced and less treatable form of blemishes also adds to psychological distress. Since developing acne later in life is less common, a person may be more vulnerable to social embarrassment and isolation. However, the overall opinion on this field of research is that more data are required to make any larger claims of correlating factors.

There is a great amount of comorbidity and common ground between medical and mental health. Sovereign Health Group is an organization that is committed to treating and exploring underlying problems to ensure a smooth and lasting recovery. Through comprehensive therapy programs and other cutting-edge strategies, Sovereign is a leader in perpetuating the quality of life for many demographics. If you or a loved one needs help with drug or alcohol addiction, mental health disorders or a combination of the two known as dual diagnosis, contact our 24/7 helpline online or call (866) 819-0427.

Written by Lee Yates, Sovereign Health Group writer

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