Do mental health and skin go together?
You may have thought so at one time or another.
No doubt you’ve experienced the occasional acne breakout when you were stressed or depressed.
What you may not know is that scientists have found more evidence to support this connection in recent years. Indeed, it seems that taking care of your mental health is a good way to take care of your skin, too.
How Mental Health and Skin Go Together
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five U.S. adults experiences mental illness each year, and one in 20 adults experiences serious mental illness each year. About half of those cases begin by age 14, while 75 percent occur by the age of 24.
Unfortunately, less than half of U.S. adults with mental illness received treatment in 2019.
Some of the most prevalent mental illnesses include:
- Bipolar disorder
- Anxiety disorders
- Posttraumatic stress disorders
Recently, our lives have been significantly altered by the pandemic. Children, parents, health care workers, and older adults have been under significant stress for over a year now because of it. For many, these changes have taken a high toll on mental health. We’ve all heard of the increases in problems like anxiety, depression, and suicide, meaning that more people than ever are dealing with these issues.
Living with a mental illness doesn’t only affect your mind and emotions. NAMI notes that people with depression, for example, have a 40 percent higher risk of developing cardiovascular and metabolic diseases than the general population.
Those living with a mental illness may also find that it affects their skin.
Mental Health and Skin: When a Mental Illness Hurts Your Skin
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), there is a strong link between the skin and psychology.
Consider one simple psychological emotion: embarrassment. What happens when you feel embarrassed? Your skin flushes, right? At least it does in many people, clearly illustrating the effect your thoughts can have on your skin.
So convinced are scientists of this connection that there is now a new field of study called “psychodermatology,” which combines the fields of psychology with dermatology to help create more holistic solutions for patients.
Psychologists are now getting involved in investigating how mental illness and other psychological issues can play a role in skin conditions like acne, psoriasis, eczema, hives, and more.
They’re also involved in helping patients deal with the psychological effects of these conditions, as it’s well known that conditions like acne and psoriasis can affect a person’s confidence and self-esteem.
We now have three types of psychodermatology disorders:
- Skin problems affected by stress, depression, and other emotional states.
- Psychological problems caused by disfiguring skin disorders.
- Psychiatric disorders that manifest themselves via the skin, such as delusional parasitosis.
For the remainder of this article, we’ll focus on the first of these: skin problems affected by mental illness.
How Mental Health Can Affect Skin Conditions
That your mental health can affect the health of your skin makes sense, right? After all, how you feel mentally affects your entire being—including your body, your energy, and even your hair. We shouldn’t be surprised that there is a strong connection with the skin as well.
For years, however, scientists weren’t sure about this. Some even outright denied that a mental illness could ever be a factor in a skin condition like dermatitis.
Now, such denials are a lot rarer becau