While I wouldn’t say I’m incredibly self-confident, I’ve always believed my self-image was healthy. However, as someone who struggled with mild acne for years, I was still hiding under layers of makeup. Only when I finally got rid of my acne and stepped out of my apartment for the first time makeup-free and feeling proud of my skin, did I realize the adverse effects the acne had on my self-image.
How Acne, Depression, and Anxiety Are Connected
In my case, acne was the result of a stress-depression blend. The acne fed on the depression, and the depression fed on the stress and anxiety caused by acne. It was a vicious cycle. It’s normal to feel down when you have acne, regardless of age, severity, or type of acne.
Sometimes, acne treatment doesn’t necessarily involve topicals and antibiotics. Instead, it requires counseling, therapy, and looking at other triggers such as depression or anxiety.
Effects of Acne on Self-Image & Self-Esteem
Whether we like it or not, our cultures place a great deal on appearance. As we’re all chasing this perfect utopian self, many people with acne end up feeling embarrassed about their skin. People also have many misconceptions when it comes to acne. These misconceptions can sometimes make us feel guilty as if, somehow, we’re responsible for our acne.
According to Science
A collection of 13 studies looked at how acne affects the quality of life in 11 countries. Across the board, participants felt embarrassed or self-conscious, some even reporting having feelings of unworthiness due to acne. They also felt that acne interfered with their social activities. Another finding of the study had to deal with age, the younger the acne began, the more significant impact it had in interpersonal relationships.
Also, there’s research that explains how those struggling with acne have difficulty adjusting to social activities. For example, they might have trouble looking at people in the eye. Sometimes when acne flare-ups occur, people might even withdraw from social invitation altogether. I know I did.
What Can You Do?
First, know that your acne doesn’t define you. I know this is easier said than done, but behind those layers of foundation and concealer is the true you. Even if you’ve struggled with acne for years and tried everything in the treatment book, you should keep looking for a solution.
The improvement of acne might improve your self-esteem over time. However, one doesn’t have to dictate the quality of the other one. Find a dermatologist willing to look at the whole picture.
For years, I visited dermatologists that treated my condition as another teenager acne case. After rounds of antibiotics, the same prescription medication, and many chemical peels, my acne was still there. It wasn’t until an acupuncturist pointed out the depression symptoms that I realized my acne was more deeply rooted in my emotions than I thought.
Work from Within
While a skincare routine is paramount, you must work on your self-image to start, even if the acne is still there. Be honest and open about your struggle and how acne sometimes keeps you away from your daily life or how it’s impacting your self-esteem. There’s no shame in that.
Keep your support system close and talk about how acne makes you feel. There are many acne groups out there that offer a community for those struggling.
A Note from GR8NESS
As you work on improving your skin’s appearance from the outside-in, keep in mind that you also need to work from the inside-out. Try to eat for your skin, consider incorporating a meditation practice, work on improving your self-image, and above all, practice self-love. Because you’re worth it, and your acne doesn’t define you.