When I was a teenager, I had a pretty bad case of acne. My complexion has cleared now with amazingly little scarring, but back then it was a real social life killer.
When I was eighteen, I was working in a 7-Eleven part-time and this old guy came in and said to me: “Gee, what’s wrong with you? You got acne or something? “You must got it bad.” I was devastated.
I almost quit my job. I didn’t have very much self confidence to begin with. My high school history teacher helped a little. There were several kids in his class that had acne besides me. “It just means that you are becoming a man quicker than others in the class.” He said.
The treatments for acne back then were almost as bad as the disease itself. They mainly consisted of facial scrubs and drying creams that made your face feel like a piece of old leather. Sometimes they gave you antibiotics, but they didn’t help very much either.
Acne is due to an excess of clogged pores and a buildup of oil. Several drugs like Accutane have been developed to treat acne and they have done a good job. But there have been reports of teenage suicide associated with taking the drugs.
But now according to Medical News Today: “Patients with severe acne have a higher risk of depression and attempting suicide compared to individuals without the condition, even one year after isotretinoin treatment,” Isotretinoin is also known by the trade names of Decutan, Clarus, Claravis, Accutane, Roaccutane or Amnesteem.
Now this study has found that the severe depression and suicides are caused by the severe acne itself, and not from taking the medication. The researchers studied almost 6,000 patients with severe acne, 63% of whom were male. 128 of the patients were hospitalized for trying to commit suicide, usually about 6 months after starting the treatment.
It seems like the six month lag period led to depression because the teenagers failed to see a marked improvement in their acne and became very depressed over it. It’s sort of like the fact that suicide rates among the general population don’t peak around the holidays, but rather in the springtime. This is due to the fact that they become even more depressed when the better weather doesn’t help their depression symptoms.
The researchers emphasis that patients should not stop taking the drug for their acne. It may boost the person’s spirits if it cures or helps the acne, and even if taking the drug leads to a greater risk of suicide, the overall incidence is still low.