Having acne is more than just a dermatological problem. It’s one of the main drivers of bullying and self-image issues among teens and adults alike.
The effects of acne on people are more than just skin-deep. It’s high time that we acknowledge the link between acne and mental health so that we can be more educated and help those who suffer from this.
“The skin is the most noticeable part of our body that could be impacted by psychological factors, yet very few psychologists are studying it,” says Kristina G. Gorbatenko-Roth, PhD. “It’s classic health psychology, just in a different area.”
Acne And Mental Health
In a society where a flawless and photoshopped face is deemed to be ideal, the pursuit of perfect skin is constant. Much to our dismay, we often find that perfect skin is elusive, if not at all impossible, for most people.
We all experience having acne at least once in our lives. There are many factors at play: lifestyle, diet, hormones, and genetics. Most of these are natural causes. But for some, the effects are much worse. This problem doesn’t sit too well in a society with such high expectations of beauty. So how exactly does having acne affect our mental health?
Our Emotional Connection To Our Skin
An overwhelming amount of people with mental illness trace their feelings toward their self-image. The person that we see in front of the mirror every day may affect our emotions intensely. Seeing an acne-ridden face may cause a disjunct on what we feel we should look like versus how we look like. It puts pressure and frustration on us because we begin to hate ourselves for not being the flawless person we are expected to be.
Studies found that people who have acne are more prone to falling into depression than those without this problem. Consistently, they also found that as a person’s acne becomes better, their mental and emotional state is also becoming more stable.
“Acne negatively affects self-esteem and can lead to anxiety and depression,” Amy Wechsler, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and psychiatrist. “Self-care often suffers, and patients with acne often withdraw from social and work activities, don’t go on dates, and don’t try for better jobs,” she explains.
Additionally, according to Emily Deans, MD, “[P]atients with acne are more likely to be depressed, angry, and suicidal. In fact, patients with acne struggle more with mental health issues than even patients with epilepsy or diabetes, according to a study comparing questionnaires between sufferers of acne and other general medical conditions.”
Bullying And Discrimination
Too many teenagers experience bullying because of acne. That’s precisely why it’s a cliché in coming-of-age movies. For most teens undergoing puberty, developing acne is unavoidable. Nevertheless, something they have no control over becomes the root of bullying. It leads them to hate school and develop an inferiority complex.
What’s worse is that the bullying does not stop in school. Even in the workplace, there is still discrimination when job seekers are denied positions because of how they look. There is a high emphasis on presentability even for desk jobs, which does not require facing people too much.
Some also experience unequal treatment compared to those who do not have acne. All these contribute to diminished mental health.
Why do I not look like her?
Along with the rise of Instagram and Instagram models, having spotless air-brushed skin is the latest craze. Albeit unnatural and unreal, conforming to these standards has now become the center of our lives. We are hell-bent on seeking validation from the world that having acne can make or break our pursuit of fame and validation.
For some, having acne is a death sentence. It’s the one thing separating us from likes and compliments. Sadly, some of us rely on the validation we get from social media, and when we lack that, we begin to doubt our self-worth.
Advising people to not care about what other people think is easier said than done. We get it: acne sucks. It’s something that almost every one of us dreads because it messes up our self-image and how other people view us.
Whatever happens, embrace your skin. Go to a dermatologist or invest in skincare products or a healthier lifestyle to help yourself. If none of that works, know that you are not alone.
On the flip side, if you’re blessed with clear skin and you’re reading this, be kind. Cheers!