Some of us are blessed with good genes — high cheekbones, toned physique and flawless skin. Others, who are not as lucky, have the ever-reliable make-up to count on to cover some facial flaws. However, for the few of us who have had to deal with serious acne problems on our faces, we know for a fact that no amount of make-up can completely hide the red bulging spots and uneven bumps from plain sight.
Acne is significantly linked to an increased risk of depression. Severe acne can have a profound psychological and emotional impact on social relationships, affecting a person’s confidence and self-esteem in ways that lead to anxiety and depression.
More often than not, self-care is neglected and sufferers may begin distancing and withdrawing themselves from social and work activities. For those who feel especially self-conscious about their skin, they may miss school or work, for fear of being mocked or judged by others and face considerable difficulty succeeding in careers, due to lack of confidence and reluctance to establish relationships and develop social skills.
Furthermore, with the advent of new social media platforms and the surge in photo-editing apps, such as Facetune over the recent years, this creates an artificial showcase that places even more pressure on the individuals with self-esteem issues.
Apps like Facetune allow its users to thin your face, remove blemishes, whiten your teeth and more. Releasing an app of that kind highlights all the ways you can improve your physical appearance, which do not help the cause. On the contrary, people become so tuned into their flaws to a point where they can only see that single pimple or blemish.
As a result, there will always be an air of dissatisfaction lingering about them — their skin is never clear enough, their teeth never white enough and their bodies can never compare — plunging them into further depression.
What Triggers Acne?
Follicles — small sacs that produce and emit liquid — connect the oil glands underneath our skin to our pores on its surface.
The glands produce an oily liquid called sebum that transports dead skin cells through the follicles to the surface of the skin. A small strand of hair grows through the follicle out of the skin. When these hair follicles get blocked and become inflamed or infected with bacteria, pimples start to appear on the skin surface.
Acne usually appears on the face, forehead, chest, upper back and shoulders as these areas of our skin contain the most oil glands.
While there are many factors that can trigger acne, a rise in androgen levels is thought to be among the main perpetrators.
Androgens are hormones that increase during puberty and cause the sebaceous glands to enlarge and produce more sebum. In women, it is converted into oestrogen. Excessive sebum can break down cellular walls in the pores, resulting in bacteria growth, which in turn, leads to acne.
Studies indicate that certain dietary factors, such as skim milk and carbohydrate-rich food, may worsen acne. These include refined carbohydrates and sugars like bread, bagels and chips. Reduce your stress levels by maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle. Getting a good night’s sleep also goes a long way in keeping those acne outbreaks at bay.
Another useful lifestyle change one must seriously consider is to stop picking at or squeezing pimples. No matter how careful you are or how clean your hands are, poking at or popping those zits nearly always makes bumps more inflamed and leads to acne scars.
Symptoms of Depression
People with acne may reveal signs of depression stemming from the emotional effects of persistent acne, including:
- Frequent or spontaneous crying
- Loss of appetite
- Mood swings
- Behavioural or attitude problems
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Fatigue or lethargy
- Social withdrawal
Dealing with Acne and Depression
To deal with depression brought on by acne, it is vital to treat both conditions and focus on your health inside and out.
Use mild cleansers or exfoliating masks to ensure skin is kept clean, as well as to minimise sensitivity and irritation. You can also purchase antibacterial cleansers over the counter that aid in eliminating surface bacteria.
However, if you are facing acne problems that cannot be controlled with over-the-counter acne treatments, seek a dermatologist to discuss viable options and alternatives, such as acne removal treatments. Depending on the severity, oral prescriptions and topical medications can also clear up acne and prevent future breakouts — giving you clear skin and improved confidence in your physical appearance.
At the same time, consult a mental health professional that will aid you in dealing with your depression and any other mental health issues that could have resulted from or been aggravated by your acne.
Acne Affects more than Your Skin
Depression and its symptoms should always be taken seriously. Depending on its severity, acne can cause emotional distress and scar the skin. Most cases of acne can be controlled and sometimes resolved completely with treatment. The earlier you start treatment, the lower your risk of such problems.
Should you have a friend or family member who is dealing with acne problems, it is crucial to be on the lookout for signs of depression, so that prompt and appropriate treatment can be sought — to tackle both the acne and its emotional effects.