Acne. For some it’s a small, albeit annoying, part of “coming of age”. For others it can be life-altering, painful and even disfiguring. Patients with scarring inflammatory acne leading to painful nodules and cysts are often desperate for an effective solution and willing to risk the sometimes severe side effects of treatment.
Isotretinoin (the generic name of known brand Accutane) is a form of oral vitamin A. It is an excellent treatment for severe acne symptoms. However, Accutane has been associated with serious mental health side effects including depression. Even after Accutane was discontinued, the association with these side effects has continued anecdotally for patients and prescribers.
A study recently presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology suggests that patients actually experience LESS depression when being treated with Isotretinoin. The results of the study of 38,000 patients prescribed systemic treatment for acne suggested that patients treated with Isotretinoin were 20% less likely to experience depression than those who were not (under 4% compared to nearly 5% of those not treated with Isotretinoin).
The study’s author, Dr. Bethanee Schlosser, an associate professor in the department of dermatology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago at the time of this writing, states “Our retrospective, population-based study shows no increased risk of depression in patients taking Isotretinoin, compared to patients with acne but not taking Isotretinoin.” Schlosser suggests that the study’s results highlight what doctors and researchers already knew - that severe acne has a greater impact on a patient’s mood and quality of life and that successfully treating the conditions likely lowers the risk of depression.
Dr. Lani Doser, DNP, says, “If fear of depression is holding you back from acne treatment, then maybe it is time to reconsider. While this medication is a great option for cystic acne, it is not benign for pregnancy. We offer alternatives to Isotretinoin for those not wanting to temporarily block their fertility or have other concerns about Isotretinoin use.”
"Depression is a serious issue that if left untreated rarely goes away. If you are dealing with depression know that it can be treated and there are resources available to help you get treatment. "
Dr. Lani Doser, DNP
If you are concerned you are suffering from depression please let someone help you. The US Department of Health and Human Services has a 24 hour help line 800.662.HELP (4357).
If you would like more information regarding Isotretinoin and alternitives or would like to schedule a free consultation to speak to one of our medical experts please call SkinWise Rx at 503.967.5334.