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The Best Way To Heal Acne From Anxiety And Depression

  • Ms. Deeksha Mishra Ms. Deeksha Mishra
  • 5 Min Read
  • Fact Checked

Can depression and anxiety cause acne?

It’s said that “beauty is deep within us“; certainly, personality and character matter, but we feel good and confident about ourselves when we look good. Any hormonal changes can mess up our systems like hives or unwanted hair growth on the skin, lowering our self-esteem and confidence, amongst others. Understanding the association between our psychological health and skin can help us find out the best way to heal acne. 

Mind And Skin Relation 

How you think affects how you feel, which changes how you behave and act in certain situations. 

Skin is the most noticeable part of the body that protects us from bacteria, chemicals, and temperature. Our skin allows us to feel as we touch a hot object, and the nerve endings on your skin respond straight away by signaling the brain to remove the hand immediately. Similarly, when we get a massage, a feeling of relaxation is released. 

Skin also reflects our emotions; when we are angry, our body produces a stress hormone called cortisol that affects collagen, one of the important elements required for skin healing. 

Prolonged exposure to stressful events, fear, negative thoughts, and emotions can worsen physical health. It can lead to conditions like breakouts (sleep deprivation can cause stress which can impair collagen quality and leads to breakout) and acne (a common skin condition where skin pores get blocked by hair, bacteria, and dead skin cells, which can lead to other different kinds of acne-like blackhead, whitehead, and pimples). 

Psychodermatology And Anxiety Medicines To Heal Acne

Skin ailments like psoriasis and eczema have a psychological aspect. It has been found that stress can trigger the symptoms of these conditions to flare up. 

Psychodermatology is a branch of medicine that deals with this correlation and focuses on the association of psychological aspects like stress and skin disorders. 

Many people have noticed that using anxiety medicine can help with their acne. It can be because of how such medicines work and how they affect the body. With a better understanding of how acne and anxiety medicine work, taking the help of a dermatologist or a psychodermatologist is always a good option.

Can Anxiety And Depression Cause Acne Breakout?

Acne usually appears on the face, neck, back, upper arms, and chest. It can be a minor irritation or lead to more severe issues like cysts and nodules that leave scars. 

There is a strong link between mental and physical health, affecting the skin. While it’s fun to ponder why we get acne in the first place, it’s not so fun to have acne. The truth is that the exact causes of acne are not known. 

Abdominal issues are commonly seen in people with anxiety and depression, which can also cause skin conditions like acne and itchy rashes, affecting the overall mood. 

  • The relationship between stress and acne is well established. The effects of stress on the sebaceous gland nose or T-zones can be linked to excess oil production, which can indicate hormonal imbalance and can be linked to hormonal acne. In contrast, stress is the major cause of acne, which can also directly affect our mood and emotional and mental wellbeing. It is also a common trigger for anxiety and depression.
  • Often physical symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression may include muscle ache, tension, palpitation, irregular heartbeat, fatigue, and low interest in performing day-to-day activities, which can cause skin conditions like pimples, white head, black head, etc.
  • Worrying and overthinking can lead to mental health problems like trouble thinking, concentrating or making decisions, negative thoughts, frustration, agitation and irritability, and other memory issues related to psychological concerns. Anxiety and depression directly do not cause acne but weaken the immune system, triggering inflammatory conditions like redness or itchy and scaly skin making the skin problems even worse.

Pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, cysts, and other skin problems common in premenstrual syndrome are the names for a wide range of physical, psychological, and emotional symptoms that many women experience before their monthly period. The symptoms are caused by fluctuating estrogen levels, which help regulate the reproductive system, and progesterone, which helps regulate fertilization and ovulation. Dealing with a stressful time and mood swings during your periods and abnormal bleeding, bloating, and dysregulated emotions can lead to acne. 

Can Hormonal Acne Be Treated?

Acne is very common among men and women as both have fine lines, pores, and textures. However, women’s symptoms are more aggravated as they deal with more complex hormonal makeup. 

Let’s understand the difference between hormonal acne and pimples mostly seen in women. Hormonal acne can be a cyclical breakout due to the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or menopause. Hormonal acne is a deep red, painful cyst that can mostly appear in the lower part of the face and can be caused by overproduction of sebum, an oily substance on skin glands that can cause dry skin. Hormonal acne cannot be cured completely but can be controlled with daily cleansing, modifying lifestyle, and changing diet. Consulting a dermatologist to understand a suitable treatment and avoid using OTC (over-the-counter) or tropical medicine can make a lot of difference. It is necessary to assess the cause of the acne with a root cause and holistic approach rather than just working on the symptoms. 

Assessing And Managing Mental Health With Holistic Approach

A holistic approach can be taken to help you to heal acne from anxiety and depression. Healthier lifestyle changes, regular monitoring, and check-ups can lead to beautiful and healthier-looking skin, reflecting your emotions. 

  • Having a balanced diet helps maintain a healthy weight and mind: Makhanas are a great source of protein. Avoid excess carbs. Nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, cashew nuts, peanuts, pistachios) are a great source of fiber and provide energy throughout the day. Lastly, Lemon water, coconut water, and buttermilk can be taken as many times a day, preventing headache and acidity. Avoid caffeine in the late evenings.
  • “Early to bed and early to rise make a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” This proverb has been passed down from generation to generation. Sometimes daily stress makes it difficult to get a good night’s rest. And when we wake up in the morning, we feel exhausted, and performing day-to-day activities can be exhausting. Improving your sleep quality by following sleep hygiene can help improve your mood.
  • Performing or doing any activity like cycling, cardio exercise, swimming, etc., can help in improving blood circulation and bring a healthy glow to the skin. 
  • Relaxing and improving the inner self is equally important to work on the physical self. Simply focusing on breathing, meditation, and yoga can bring a sense of calm and happiness from within.

How Can I Make Myself Feel Better With Acne?

Acne doesn’t affect your skin but also affects how you see and think about yourself. The best way to make oneself feel better is to:

  • Seek a support system. Talk to your friends and family about it.
  • Follow good hygiene practices.
  • Exercise can help in regulating emotions in much better ways. Any kind of physical activity releases endorphins called ”happy hormones” can decrease other kinds of stress hormones like ”cortisol” which bring positive changes within the body and improve physical appearance.
  • Accept your body, and embrace your flaws. Follow a process to make yourself better from yesterday. 
  • Hear yourself. Have positive self-talk.
  • Work on self-love. Pamper yourself a day in a week.
  • Try to explore something new. Rewarding yourself with accomplishments can help you in boosting self-esteem.

Sometimes chronic skin conditions can have a great impact on mental health. It might not be easy to handle the skin condition outdoors, and you cover your face with different clothing to deal with distressing situations. Therefore, having a positive perception of ourselves, a change in mindset, and getting help from mental health professionals can help you eliminate unnecessary thinking and remove negative thoughts that can impact wellbeing and quality of life. Going for counseling and talking about it can help you lead a healthy and happy life.

Deeksha Mishra is a Consultant Psychologist with MFine. She is a certified Art Therapist, Practitioner in Mindfulness and a Graphologist.

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