There’s a very close link.
As anyone who has ever woken up on the day of a stressful exam with an unwelcome guest on their chin will know, emotional wellbeing and skin-health are closely linked. The results of a new study, however, suggest that these links might be more serious and far-reaching than we thought.
The study, published in the British Journal of Dermatology tracked the medical records of over two million men and women over 15 years. Of these, 134,427 suffered with acne. They found that in the first year after being diagnosed with acne, these individuals were 63% more likely to develop major depression than those not suffering from the skin condition.
Fortunately, they did find that the risk of depression went back down to normal five years after the diagnosis. The drastic increase in the initial risk is pretty staggering, however, and points to a clear correlation between the two factors.
What’s less clear, though, is the direction of causation. It’s very possible that the social and emotional effects of suffering from acne can stimulate depression. However, there’s also research in the emerging field of psychodermatology suggesting that your emotions can actually cause inflammation on your skin (hence the spot on-your-chin-on-exam-day thing). So even though the study’s results suggest that the acne diagnosis comes first, it’s also possible that those with depression suffer from acne as a result of their pre-existing mental health condition.
Hopefully, this study will spark further research to discover exactly how this relationship works. Either way, one conclusion is clear: the links between our skin and our mental health are much stronger than we think.