There have been concerns that Isotretinoin may increase the risk of depression. Yet, this has not been proven. Isotretinoin is sometimes known as Roaccutane in the UK and Accutane in America. In fact, whether Isotretinoin (Roaccutane) is linked to depression is controversial. This is because studies looking at this issue have been inconsistent.
We must not forget that acne can be a very distressing condition for many sufferers. Depression can develop in someone taking Isotretinoin (Roaccutane) because acne can cause depressive symptoms when it’s not treated. Depression may also occur because it is a common problem and it’s something that might have occurred regardless of whether the patient was taking Isotretinoin (Roaccutane) or not.
Does Isotretinoin (Roaccutane) cause depression?
No – not according to the latest paper looking at this question, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology in June 2017. Investigators combined the results of 31 separate studies. Combining studies is known as a meta-analysis.A meta-analysis is a good way of pooling together the findings of several studies as it helps to find any trends. This is a recognised statistical method used in medical investigations.
For this meta-analysis, each study had at least 15 patients with acne who received Isotretinoin (Roaccutane). The total number of patients analysed was 2611. The large number of patients which were analysed gives weight to the validity of this study.
Moreover, the results showed that a course of Isotretinoin (Roaccutane) actually reduced depression levels.
What this means.
This study shows that Isotretinoin (Roaccutane) did not increase depression levels. Isotretinoin (Roaccutane) is safe for the majority of those who need it for severe acne. This study provides reassurance that the benefits outweigh the risks. Most Dermatologists share this view as prescribing of Isotretinoin (Roaccutane) has increased year-on-year.
Acne can reduce the quality of life of those suffering from it, especially if the acne is severe. Another important study showed that acne reduced social and pschological wellbeing as much as other chronic medical conditions like epilepsy, diabetes and back pain. It follows that anything to control the condition is likely to relieve the psychological distress it causes. This is probably why Isotretinoin (Roaccutane) was found to reduce depression levels.
Another benefit of Isotretinoin (Roaccutane) is that it limits scarring from acne. Deep, nodular and cystic acne spots have a tendency to form scars, and Isotretinoin (Roaccutane) is particularly effective at treating this sort of acne. Acne scarring causes anxiety, depression and lowered self-esteem. Anything that reduces scarring is also likely to reduce depression. Being on effective treatment for acne as earky as possible is important as this is the best way to minimise scarring.
It’s important to remember that for some acne sufferers, depression may still develop or worsen while on Isotretinoin (Roaccutane). If you are considering a course of Isotretinoin, it is important to discuss this with your Dermatologist. If you have a history of depression, then your Dermatologist may recommend that you have the support of a mental health practitioner while undergoing treatment.